War crimes in International Criminal Law

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Since the onslaught of the Russian army into Ukraine on February 24, the Kremlin’s refusal to use certain words – notably its use of the term “special military operation” rather than “war” or “invasion” – forces us to reconsider how to justly classify, in terms of international criminal law, the acts committed in the course of this conflict, with a view to de-instrumentalizing the political rhetoric and restoring the real legal contours to the violence being committed.

The Rome Statute provides for international criminal jurisdiction over individuals who commit any of the crimes that affect the international community as a whole. It punishes violations of international humanitarian law and defines the most serious core international crimes: the crime of aggression, war crimes, crimes against humanity and the crime of genocide.

Professor Muriel Paradelle explains the factors that must be taken into account in order to justify this criminal qualification under international law. In this case, are actual war crimes being committed by the Russian army in Ukraine? To answer this question, it is appropriate to examine the elements of the crime as set out in Article 6 of the Rome Statute establishing the International Criminal Court. International Criminal Court.

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