- March 18, 2022
- Posted by: admin1
- Category: DPN Topics
Subject: Defence & Security
Section: International organization
Context- President Joe Biden flatly called Russia’s Vladimir Putin a “war criminal” for the unfolding onslaught in Ukraine.
Who is a war criminal?
- The term applies to anyone who violates a set of rules adopted by world leaders known as the law of armed conflict.
- The rules govern how countries behave in times of war.
- Those rules have been modified and expanded over the past century, drawn from the Geneva Conventions in the aftermath of World War II and protocols added later.
- The rules are aimed at protecting people not taking part in fighting and those who can no longer fight, including civilians like doctors and nurses, wounded troops and prisoners of war. Treaties and protocols lay out who can be targeted and with what weapons. Certain weapons are prohibited, including chemical or biological agents.
What specific crimes make someone a war criminal?
- The so-called “grave breaches” of the conventions that amount to war crimes include
- willful killing
- extensive destruction and appropriation of property not justified by military necessity.
- Other war crimes include deliberately targeting civilians,
- using disproportionate force,
- using human shields and
- taking hostages.
- The International Criminal Court also prosecutes crimes against humanity committed in the context of “a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population.” These include murder, extermination, forcible transfer, torture, rape and sexual slavery.
What are the paths to justice?
- There are four paths to investigate and determine war crimes, though each one has limits.
- International Criminal Court
- United Nations
- tribunal or court by a group of interested or concerned states, such as NATO, the European Union and the U.S. Example: The military tribunals at Nuremberg following World War II against Nazi leaders.
- some countries have their own laws for prosecuting war crimes. Germany, for example, is already investigating Putin.
*** For further reading on Geneva Convention refer to Optimize IAS DPN 13 March 2022