Austrian Justice Minister Zadic Wants to Strengthen the International Criminal Court

PeopleDiplomats ♦ Published: March 12, 2023; 17:47 ♦ (Vindobona)

EU justice ministers have met again in Brussels to discuss the legal consequences of Russia's war of aggression in Ukraine. Austria's Justice Minister Alma Zadic wants to strengthen the International Court of Justice in the fight against war crimes in the Ukraine war.

In The Hague, Netherlands, are the premises of the International Criminal Court. / Picture: © Wikimedia Commons / Hypergio / CC BY-SA 4.0 (

Russia and President Vladimir Putin must be held accountable for the horrific crimes against Ukraine, said EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. She said there was growing evidence of war crimes such as direct attacks on civilians and energy supplies and other infrastructure. Austria wants to support the EU in the international condemnation of Russian war crimes.

To be able to hold the perpetrators "of these atrocious crimes accountable, we must quickly close existing criminal liability gaps," demanded department head Alma Zadic (Greens) before the meeting, according to ORF. To this end, the International Criminal Court (ICC) should be strengthened, the minister added.

There are many ideas on the table for punishing the crimes, such as a special tribunal, Zadic said, according to ORF, "But the top priority is not to weaken the international prosecuting authority."

However, the latter does not currently have the mandate to prosecute the crime of aggression, Zadic said, according to ORF. The "best solution would be for all of us to acknowledge that we all recognize aggression." However, that would be "very difficult," so it would be necessary to "act quickly" here, she said, also concerning the collection of evidence.

Kyiv paves way for ICC office in Ukraine

The ICC, based in The Hague, is the highest international court and has been prosecuting particularly serious offenses such as war crimes since 2002. It had launched investigations into alleged war crimes shortly after the Russian invasion of Ukraine began.

The government in Kyiv has paved the way for the opening of an office of the prosecutors of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in Ukraine. The Cabinet approved a corresponding agreement negotiated with the ICC, Ukrainian Prosecutor General Andriy Kostin told a conference in Lviv. He said this would "allow the opening of an office of the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court in Ukraine soon." This will allow the court to conduct better investigations, he said.

U.S. Justice Secretary Merrick Garland also made a surprise trip to the conference. "We are in Ukraine today to say clearly and with one voice: The perpetrators of these crimes will not go unpunished," he said, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. He added that the United States stands with Ukrainian war crimes investigators. Since the invasion began a year ago, he said, Russia has committed atrocities on the largest scale of any conflict since World War II.

Russia does not recognize ICC

Ukraine, the European Union and the U.S. are doing everything they can to condemn Russian war crimes and hold Putin accountable. The court can investigate alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity in Ukraine.

However, it cannot proceed against Moscow for the crime of aggression, because Russia does not recognize the ICC. Speaking to journalists in Lviv, Kostin also pointed out that the ICC cannot take action against Moscow in connection with Russia's war of aggression. Therefore, a special international court must be established, he demanded.


Ukraine Governent

U.S. Department of Justice

Austrian Ministry of Justice