Holding Moscow Accountable: War Crimes, Crimes Against Humanity and Aggression in Ukraine – Prospects for and Problems of Prosecution

On 12 February 2024, WCRG members James Gow and Iva Vukušić offered insights as members of a panel on the quest for justice and accountability for war crimes in Ukraine held at Princeton University.

Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, a manifest violation of the UN Charter, has been condemned with an overwhelming majority by the UN General Assembly in March and October 2022. As a result of the acts of aggression against Ukraine, there is individual criminal responsibility for persons in political and military leadership positions for the crime of aggression. While the ICC has been able to exercise jurisdiction over the crime of aggression since 2018, it is unable to do so in Ukraine due to the jurisdictional limitations of the Kampala Amendments. Therefore, unless the Security Council refers the situation to the ICC, the most brazen act of aggression since the creation of the United Nations, which is also
an attack against the international legal order, cannot be investigated and prosecuted by the ICC. As the international community considers possible ways to fill this accountability gap with respect to aggression against Ukraine including the creation of a Special Tribunal, States should also reconsider the jurisdictional reach of the ICC over the crime of aggression to enable the ICC to prosecute this supreme crime in future comparable situations to provide the international community with an important tool to fight impunity. The case of Ukraine clearly illustrates that aggression can be at the origin of other Rome Statute crimes which makes a strong case for the ICC to have the same jurisdictional regime over all four Rome Statute crimes.

This panel will explore these issues and more to offer informed and discussion of war crimes issues in Ukraine, linked to the eventual prospect of an end to armed conflict in the country.

H.E. Christian Wenaweser, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of the Principality of Liechtenstein to the UN

James Gow, Professor of International Peace and Security and Co-Director of the War Crimes Research Group, King’s College London

Olena Lennon, Adjunct Professor / Practitioner in Residence, Department of National Security, Henry C. Lee College of Criminal Justice and Forensic Sciences, University of New Haven

Iva Vukusic, Assistant Professor in International History at Utrecht University, Visiting Research Fellow at the Department of War Studies, King’s College London

Deborah Pearlstein (Moderator), Director, Program in Law and Public Policy and Charles and Marie Robertson Visiting Professor in Law and Public Affairs, Princeton University


  • Liechtenstein Institute on Self-Determination
  • Program in Law and Public Policy

You can view the recording of the event here, hosted by the Liechtenstein Institution at Princeton