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Joint Investigation Team on Core International Crimes in Ukraine: Navigating the Crime of Aggresion

Updated: Jan 19

This essay explores the application of the principle of universal jurisdiction within the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) framework, particularly in investigating and prosecuting the crime of aggression related to conflict-related crimes committed since February 2022 in Ukraine. Universal jurisdiction allows for the prosecution of certain crimes that harm the international community, irrespective of where they were committed, or the nationalities involved. The essay juxtaposes this principle with the doctrine of obligations erga omnes, as illustrated in the Barcelona Traction case, to question whether acts of aggression warrant the invocation of universal jurisdiction. It critically examines the mandate of the JIT, its interaction with universal jurisdiction, and the varying stances of JIT Member States like Lithuania, Poland, Ukraine, Estonia, Latvia, Slovakia, and Romania. These countries have differing approaches to codifying international crimes, particularly the crime of aggression, within their national legal frameworks. The essay also delves into the interplay between universal jurisdiction and protective jurisdiction, highlighting Romania's preference for the latter. The potential role of JIT, Eurojust, Europol, and the ICC in creating an efficient framework for evidence collection and legal processes is discussed. The paper addresses the complexities and challenges of applying universal jurisdiction to the crime of aggression, including the high threshold set by the Kampala Amendments and the political dynamics influencing impartial prosecutions. Finally, the essay considers the implications of a Special Tribunal for crimes against Ukraine and the need for a balanced, just, and collaborative approach to international criminal justice, urging JIT Member States to lead this endeavor.


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