Ukraine and Russia: International (criminal) responses to hybrid war?

Authors: Klinkner, M.

Conference: International Criminal Trials: Historical Paradigms and Contemporary Dimensions

Dates: 21 September 2015


The conflict in Eastern Ukraine has been labelled as a ‘hybrid war’ by Ukraine’s national security chief. Hybrid threat is a concept recognised by NATO as the ability to simultaneously employ conventional and non-conventional means adaptively in pursuit of objectives. These wars involve ‘the conventional battleground; the conflict zone's indigenous population battleground; and the home front and international community battleground.’ One of the attractions of a hybrid war for the aggressor is the difficulty of attributing actions to actors – not least the state responsible. The question motivating this presentation is what responses the international community may take to such a crisis, with specific focus on the International Criminal Court (ICC). This focus is particularly justified as Ukraine has made overtures to the ICC: on 17 April 2014, the Government of Ukraine lodged a declaration under Article 12(3) of the Rome Statute accepting the jurisdiction of the ICC over alleged crimes committed on its territory between 21 November 2013 and 22 February 2014. In September this jurisdiction was extended to cover the events surrounding Crimea, MH17 and the ongoing conflict. Ukraine signed the Rome Statute in 2000 and has made its intent to ratify the Statute in the very near future clear. How would the ICC cope with investigating what commentators have called a challenge to our traditional concept of war and peace? The presentation argues that international criminal law may not be that ill-equipped to deal with ‘hybrid war crimes’.

Source: Manual