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Hello, this is Michelle, with our monthly war crimes round-up in collaboration with Civitas Maxima. Courts took major steps in March in seeking justice for victims of atrocities in different parts of the world.

Perhaps the most significant one was the arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court against Russian leader Vladimir Putin. While seen as mostly symbolic due to how hard it is to enforce, it sends a clear message of who the main culprit behind the invasion of Ukraine is.

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Michelle Langrand


War criminal hunt

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Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with Maria Lvova-Belova, Russian children's rights commissioner, at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence, outside Moscow, on 16 February 2023. (Keystone/Mikhail Metzel/Sputnik/AFP)

The decision of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to issue an arrest warrant against Vladimir Putin was the most striking news of the month. Given that the ICC does not have jurisdiction over the crime of aggression of the war in Ukraine, there were question marks around whether chief prosecutor Karim Khan would be able to convince the judges to issue an arrest warrant directly against the Russian president.

A little over a year after the beginning of the conflict, Khan and his team were able to do so by focusing on an emblematic crime – the forcible transfer of children – where Putin’s direct implication seems prima facie clear: for example, he had issued a decree to fast-track the granting of Russian citizenship for abducted Ukrainian children to make them easier to adopt. The arrest warrant makes the ultimate liability for this conflict very clear.

Geneva Solutions (EN)

Here’s what else is happening

International Geneva moves

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The US put forward Amy Pope, currently the IOM’s deputy director for management reform, as its candidate to be the next leader of the organisation. (US permanent representative to the UN in Geneva/Twitter)

US bid for IOM raises eyebrows. Amy Pope, deputy director of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), announced last year she would challenge her boss António Vitorino for the top job with the support of Washington. The Portuguese director general is up for re-election in May. The move, a break away from UN protocol, has taken observers by surprise, as our colleagues from PassBlue report. But the United States, which has traditionally headed the migration agency, seems more worried about regaining control than upsetting its European counterparts.

PassBlue (EN)

🗓️Save the date!

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Russia-Ukraine war: what are the risks of escalation? One year since Russia invaded Ukraine, could the war extend beyond the country’s borders and should Vladimir Putin’s threats of using nuclear weapons be taken seriously? What does the future look like for Ukrainians who have fled the violence?

Geneva Solutions, in partnership with Le Temps and the Geneva Press Club, will debate these questions with Ukrainian ambassador to Switzerland Iryna Venediktova, the assistant high commissioner for protection with the UN Refugee Agency Gillian Triggs and other high-level experts and civil society actors at a panel on 4 April at Domaine de Penthes in Geneva.

Register for the event (EN)

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