Support Russia Insider - Go Ad-Free!

Proposed MH17 Tribunal Would Be Blatantly Illegal

UN Security Council has no judicial powers and therefore may not delegate such powers to a 'tribunal' founded by it

This Wednesday the UN Security Council is scheduled to vote on the proposal to establish an international tribunal to prosecute suspects in the shoot-down of MH17. The proposal has been put forward by the Netherlands, Belgium, Australia, Malaysia and Ukraine. It is expected to be vetoed by Russia. 

Firstly, the proposal stinks to high heaven. Why is the same Dutch-led cohort which has been tasked with investigating the shoot-down, but a full year later has yet to produce any findings now proposing a fully-fledged UN tribunal? To do what exactly?

It doesn't sound like a tribunal would have much to do does it?

Naturally, the vote will be very useful for the Netherlands as it will be promptly spun as Amsterdam, backed by the US, France and Britain, eager to find the truth of the atrocity but, once again, Russia for some reason standing in the way.

Support Russia Insider - Go Ad-Free!

While Moscow is right to question the motive of the states proposing the tribunal and to reject it just on these grounds it is also the case that such a tribunal would actually be blatantly illegal. Fact is that under UN Charter the Security Council has no judicial powers. As such it may not delegate powers to a 'UN tribunal' that it does not have in the first place.

It is true that in the 1990s the UN Security Council conjured up into being two other "international" courts - the 'International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia' and the 'International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda' - however, the mere fact that UNSC powers were able to get away with it does not make these courts (both of which went on to show themselves as unfair and pushing highly questionable political narratives 1,2) actually legal.

The legally proper way to find an international court that has jurisdiction over sovereign nations is by international treaty - this Wednesday Russia should remind the world of this fact.

Support Russia Insider - Go Ad-Free!

Our commenting rules: You can say pretty much anything except the F word. If you are abusive, obscene, or a paid troll, we will ban you. Full statement from the Editor, Charles Bausman.

Add new comment