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Switzerland pledges support for creation of special tribunal for Russia's war

by Nate Ostiller and The Kyiv Independent news desk November 16, 2023 6:21 PM 2 min read
The Federal Palace, Switzerland's parliament building, in Bern, Switzerland, March 2023. (Stefan Wermuth/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
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Switzerland supports the creation of an international special tribunal to investigate Russia's "crime of aggression" against Ukraine, the Swiss foreign ministry said on Nov. 16.

"Switzerland is firmly convinced that the aggression against Ukraine must not go unpunished," the ministry said.

Switzerland would join 38 other countries that currently support the initiative, including many of Ukraine's allies in Europe, as well as Japan, Guatemala, and other countries.

In order for the special tribunal to succeed, the FDFA said, it should be internationally based and have broad international support, its actions should be grounded in international legal standards, and it should serve as a complement to existing international legal institutions, namely the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Although there is an existing basis for prosecuting human rights violations and war crimes through the ICC, it does not have jurisdiction to act on the crime of aggression because neither Russia nor Ukraine has ratified the ICC's Rome Statue.  

Ratification of the statute establishes crimes that fall within the jurisdiction of the court. Ukraine is a signatory but has not ratified the statute.

In an announcement in June 2023 affirming Estonia's support for the tribunal, the Estonia Parliament likened it to the Charter of the International Military Tribunal of Nuremberg, which tried the crimes of the European Axis Powers after World War II.

Switzerland, a historically neutral country, has supported Ukraine with economic and humanitarian aid since the beginning of the full-scale invasion but has refrained from sending military support.

A Swiss law prevents the export of Swiss weapons to combat zones, even when supplied by an intermediary country.

Attempts to change the law since the full-scale invasion have been repeatedly voted down by the Swiss Parliament.

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