By Niklas Jakobsson
On the midnight train. On my mind. At the International Criminal Court. Georgia seems to be everywhere these days. I know – the classic songs talk about another Georgia – but the temptation was too great for me to pass up.
Last week, it was announced that the Office of the Prosecutor intends to apply for authorisation to open a full investigation into the situation in Georgia. The news came from the presidency of the Court, as it decided to assign the situation to a pre-trial chamber. So what were some of the main takeaways? The Court dealing with a P5 member? Putin in the docks at The Hague? Think again.
In a world where the ICC can hardly go a day without being accused of Africa-bias or neo-colonialism, it’s quite interesting to see how defenders of the Court quickly jump on every opportunity to defend it, whether the situation relates to Africa or not.
As the news broke, social media took its usual spin around the block, with speculation running wild and international justice observers scrambling for information. A few conclusions were quickly drawn based on the available facts.
But dealing with a permanent member of the Security Council will not be easy. The Court has previously (and is currently) dealing with P5 members at the preliminary examination stage, something which has led to a few interesting arguments by the members. In the very early days of the Court, it led to the creation of the American Service-Members’ Protection Act, more commonly known as the ‘Invade The Hague Act’. Will we see Russia taking similar steps?
The OTP potentially launching an investigation into the Georgia situation does open up several parties to prosecution. According to the OTP’s submissions, it will describe the conducts of the Georgian army, the Russian army and South Ossetian forces. But what does that mean in concrete terms?
There’s definitely room for speculation as to which parties will potentially be targeted by the prosecution. But it seems as though this could turn into a lose-lose situation for the prosecution. Regardless of how legally sound the arguments of Fatou Bensouda and her team, there will be people displeased with whichever direction they take.
But until the investigation develops (assuming it’s authorised by the pre-trial chamber), we’ll just have to patiently wait for someone to be disappointed or outraged with which the direction taken. But hey, at least the Court is moving out of Africa.
- Which parties do you believe the OTP will target in the investigation?
- How will Russia react to this move?
- What other difficulties do you believe the Court will face in this situation?
Lead image: Members of Georgian NGOs waving the Georgian national flag (Photo: Vano Shlamov/AFP)
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