Ukraine’s President Zelensky Visits the International Criminal Court in the Netherlands

Ukraine’s President Zelensky Visits the International Criminal Court in the Netherlands

On April 20, 2021, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky made a historic visit to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, Netherlands. This marked the first time a sitting Ukrainian president had visited the ICC, and it was seen as a significant step in Ukraine’s efforts to seek justice for crimes committed during the conflict with Russia.

The Visit

Zelensky’s visit to the ICC was part of his official trip to the Netherlands, which included a meeting with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and a visit to the headquarters of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. During his visit to the ICC, Zelensky met with ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda and other officials to discuss the ongoing investigation into crimes committed during the conflict in Ukraine.

Zelensky’s Message

During his visit, Zelensky emphasized Ukraine’s commitment to seeking justice for crimes committed during the conflict with Russia. He stressed the importance of holding those responsible accountable and providing justice for the victims. Zelensky also thanked the ICC for its support of Ukraine and its efforts to investigate and prosecute war crimes.

The Conflict

The conflict in Ukraine began in 2014, when Russia annexed Crimea and began supporting separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine. The conflict has since claimed over 13,000 lives and displaced over 1.6 million people. Both sides have been accused of committing war crimes, including torture, rape, and the use of prohibited weapons.

The ICC Investigation

In 2014, Ukraine referred the situation in the country to the ICC, giving the court jurisdiction over crimes committed in Ukraine since February of that year. The ICC has been conducting a preliminary examination of the situation in Ukraine since then, and in 2018, it opened a full investigation into alleged crimes committed by all sides in the conflict.

The investigation is ongoing, and the ICC has already issued arrest warrants for several individuals, including former Ukrainian President Yanukovych and Russian-backed separatist leaders. However, none of the suspects have been apprehended, and Russia, which is not a member of the ICC, has refused to cooperate with the investigation.

Conclusion

Zelensky’s visit to the ICC was a significant step in Ukraine’s efforts to seek justice for crimes committed during the conflict with Russia. The ICC investigation into the situation in Ukraine is ongoing, and while progress has been made, there is still a long way to go. Zelensky’s message of commitment to justice and accountability is an important one, and it is hoped that his visit will help to further the cause of justice in Ukraine.