Europe on ICC docket as Ukraine diplomatic pact announced

ukrAt The Hague today, the International Criminal Court announced that Ukraine had declared partial acceptance of ICC jurisdiction – during the same hour that diplomats in Geneva announced an agreement in the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.

In a statement posted at the ICC website (video here), ICC Registrar Herman von Hebel announced receipt of a declaration stating:

‘In conformity with Article 12, paragraph 3 of the Statute of the International Criminal Court, Ukraine hereby recognizes the jurisdiction of the Court for the purpose of identifying, prosecuting and judging the authors and accomplices of acts committed on the territory of Ukraine within the period 21 November 2013 – 22 February 2014.’

The initial declaration (pictured above) is dated April 9; a followup declaration dated yesterday confirmed that that the person signing had authority to do so on behalf of Ukraine.

The limitations in the declaration reflect the fact that Ukraine has signed but not ratified the ICC Statute – a situation that Ambassador Tiina Intelmann, President of the ICC Assembly of States Parties, urged Ukraine to change:

‘To ensure the full protective potential of the Rome Statute system and accountability for atrocity crimes, I hope that Ukraine will proceed with the ratification of the Rome Statute in the nearest future.’

Today’s developments mean that incidents in 2 European countries are before the court. In 2008, the Office of the Prosecutor opened a preliminary examination into incidents in the Republic of Georgia. On that, the ICC website states that prosecutors are

‘seeking clarification as to whether the respective national investigations have halted; whether any additional information remains to be provided to the Office; and whether the lack of cooperation identified as an obstacle both by the Russian and Georgian authorities may be overcome through enhanced mutual legal assistance between the two States.’

Today’s developments occurred, moreover, against the backdrop of movement in the diplomatic standoff on Ukraine; that is, the release of the following joint statement on behalf of the United States, the European Union, Russia and Ukraine:

‘The Geneva meeting on the situation in Ukraine agreed on initial concrete steps to de-escalate tensions and restore security for all citizens.

‘All sides must refrain from any violence, intimidation or provocative actions. The participants strongly condemned and rejected all expressions of extremism, racism and religious intolerance, including anti-Semitism.

‘All illegal armed groups must be disarmed; all illegally seized buildings must be returned to legitimate owners; all illegally occupied streets, squares and other public places in Ukrainian cities and towns must be vacated.

‘Amnesty will be granted to protesters and to those who have left buildings and other public places and surrendered weapons, with the exception of those found guilty of capital crimes.

‘It was agreed that the O.S.C.E. Special Monitoring Mission should play a leading role in assisting Ukrainian authorities and local communities in the immediate implementation of these de-escalation measures wherever they are needed most, beginning in the coming days. The U.S., E.U. and Russia commit to support this mission, including by providing monitors.

‘The announced constitutional process will be inclusive, transparent and accountable. It will include the immediate establishment of a broad national dialogue, with outreach to all of Ukraine’s regions and political constituencies, and allow for the consideration of public comments and proposed amendments.

‘The participants underlined the importance of economic and financial stability in Ukraine and would be ready to discuss additional support as the above steps are implemented.’

How all these developments interact remains to be seen.