By Mehmet Solmaz
BIRMINGHAM, England (AA) — Representatives of over 40 nations were present at a meeting organized by the UK and the Netherlands in London to boost funding and support for the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) investigations into alleged war crimes committed by Russia in Ukraine.
The event took place days after the global court issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin, in which it accuses him of personal responsibility in the alleged abduction of children from Ukraine.
Russia acknowledges the relocation of thousands of Ukrainian children to Russia, but claims it’s a humanitarian campaign to protect orphans and children abandoned in the conflict zone. The court verdict was the first time the ICC has issued a warrant against a leader of one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). ICC Chief Prosecutor Karim Khan described the historic situation as a “sombre moment.”.
He urged Russia to return the children to Ukraine. “This is a moment of crisis,” Khan said.
“I say repatriate the children, return the children, reunite the children. If there is any semblance of truth to the utterances that this is for the sake of the children instead of giving them a foreign passport, return them to the countries of their nationality.”
It’s being argued that the ICC has no powers to prosecute Russia since it’s not a signatory to the Rome statute that set up the court.
Addressing the diplomats gathered in London, Khan urged them to realize what was at stake: “If we don’t in this moment in world affairs cling to the law, we will not only miss an opportunity, we may not have further opportunities.
"This needs to be a moment when we realize if we do not cling to the law we may have nothing to cling to in the future. We cannot be complacent that peace and prosperity and economic opportunity is the inevitable birthright of every child.”
While calling on their allies to support the ICC’s investigations, the UK has allocated £1 million ($1.2M) to the court.
Addressing his guests, the British Deputy PM and Justice Minister Dominic Raab said: “We are gathering in London today united by one cause to hold war criminals to account for the atrocities committed in Ukraine during this unjust, unprovoked and unlawful invasion.
"The UK, alongside the international community, will continue to provide the International Criminal Court with the funding, people and expertise to ensure justice is served."