The Parable of the Contemporary International Community

“The activation of the ICC’s jurisdiction over the crime of aggression was a gift to all humankind. The court stands for conscience and compassion, and against hatred and violence.”
– Jutta F. Bertran-Nothnagal.

“We won’t recognize Crimea’s annexation…” – Erdogan.

Wherever there’s an act of war, International Humanitarian Law will come to play a role, whether or not a state of war is declared by one or both of the adverse parties.

In the early hours of Thursday 24th, February 2022, Russia launched an attack against the territorial integrity of Ukraine which claimed seven lives. 1

The missile has hit Ivano-Frankivsk Airport in Western Ukraine after the Russian forces launched an attack.

Article 2 of the UN charter is to the effect that all states are equal and all States shall refrain from the threat or use of force against another. Similarly, the preamble of the UN Charter provides that:

“To save the succeeding generation from the scourge of war which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind.”

Article 5 of the Rome Statute of ICC provides for the scope of the jurisdiction of the court… Crimes of international concern; war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide, and crime of aggression.

The further amendment of the Rome Statute of ICC incorporated the crime of aggression into the jurisdiction of the court – the amendment came into force and the ICC was to prosecute the crime of aggression from July 17, 2018.

Article 8b of the Rome Statute defines the act of aggression, thus “… act aggression means the use of armed forces by a state against the territorial integrity or political independence of another state, or in any manner inconsistent with the United Nations Charter.”

In 2014, Russia annexed Crimea, the Eastern region of Ukraine, and thereafter, started mobilizing its Nationals to the region, this act is considered tantamount to colonization which is a concise violation of The Geneva Convention IV (GCIV).

Upon the early invasion of Ukraine by the Russian government, the indiscriminate attack is absolutely in breach of the provision of article 48 of the Additional Protocol I (API) 1977 which was evolved from the principle of distinction of the time immemorial, customary international law. The API provides thus:

“…the parties to the conflict shall at all times distinguish between the civilian population and combatants and between civilian objects and military objectives and accordingly shall direct the operation only against military objectives.”

A series of crimes of aggression have been recorded, particularly in the Middle East, but none of them were prosecuted.

I will be right to say that the crime of aggression as a crime of international concern is just a white paper codification.

Coming down the line to Eastern Europe, the outrageous adversaries between Russia and Ukraine left me puzzled and baffled; who’d make Russia responsible for her crime knowing fully well that it (Russia) possesses a veto at the United Nations Security Council Seat?
Well, article 27 of the UN Charter is to the effect that Russia will not participate in voting as to the resolution the security is to take in respect to any Armed Conflict and Russia will be bound by it notwithstanding the Veto it possesses. But can the world be at ease?

There has been a cliché that “International law is a toothless bulldog that can only bark but cannot bite.”

On a final note, the UN charter needs to be amended, article 51 – collective self-defense needs to be deleted: the operation of collective self-defense at the international level serves as a shield for states to operate with impunity. A hypothetical example is for instance state A is a member of NATO and state B is a member of another collective self-defense organization, where state A is attacked by state B, the remaining state parties of the NATO will have an absolute justification to attack state B as a means of self-defense under international law, and as a means of reprisal under International Humanitarian Law and on the other hand, member states that owe alliance to state B under any collective self-defense treaty will have also a justification to attack state A accordingly… This will therefore lead to chaos.

About the Author

Mujahid Muhammad Musa is a Law student, at Usmanu Danfodio University Sokoto.
He can be reached via 09030834295,
Email: [email protected]

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