US State Department Supports "Hybrid Tribunal" on Crime of Aggression, Which Ukraine Opposes

Tuesday, 28 March 2023

The US State Department supported the creation of a so-called "hybrid tribunal" to investigate the crime of Russian aggression, which Kyiv calls unacceptable.

According to Voice of America, Beth Van Schaack, Ambassador-at-Large for Global Criminal Justice of the US State Department, on 27 March, during a speech at a conference at the Catholic University of America in Washington, noted that "many different models" of tribunals were under consideration. According to the representative of the State Department, after analysing all the pros and cons, the United States concluded that "the most effective way to ensure responsibility for crimes of aggression involves the creation of an internationalized court within the judicial system of Ukraine".

As she states, such efforts will include "substantive jurisdiction over international crimes, the involvement of international personnel, possibly through the integration of professionals, judges, prosecutors, investigators, lawyers, or the provision of expert assistance at the request of Ukraine."

Schaack noted that the tribunal could potentially be located somewhere in Europe, at least during the war.

"This will further strengthen Ukraine's European orientation and the international legitimacy of such an institution, which will be important for it, as well as contribute to the provision of assistance by strong states that are committed to investigating the crime of aggression," she said.

The representative of the State Department added that such a court will not need a resolution of the UN General Assembly on the creation of a new independent international institution, the formation of which requires time and resources.

"Such a hybrid court will also demonstrate Ukraine's leadership in ensuring responsibility for the crime of aggression entirely within the national legal system," she said.

When asked by the Ukrainian service of Voice of America whether there is an international consensus and support for the creation of such a hybrid model of an international tribunal to investigate the crime of Russian aggression, the State Department representative replied that it has not yet been possible to reach a final consensus.

"I don't think we have reached a final consensus yet. There are two models under consideration: this model is the Ukrainian tribunal, which will have an international character and will have a lot of international support, and another option is that it can create the UN General Assembly. 

The Ukrainian authorities are considering both options. Preference was expressed for a more separate international institution, but there are concerns that it may not be possible to gather the necessary votes in the General Assembly to create such an institution," she explained.

President Zelenskyy’s Office publicly declared unacceptable ideas for creating a so-called "hybrid tribunal" as a tool for investigating the crime of aggression by the Russian Federation.

The European Commission confirmed that the "hybrid tribunal" against the Russian Federation has not been withdrawn from discussion despite Ukraine's disagreement.

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