In response to allegations that Russian soldiers are committing war crimes in Ukraine, the United Kingdom, United States, and European Union announced in a joint statement this week the formation of a new advisory group to help investigate those claims.
In the statement, published on Wednesday, the new Atrocity Crimes Advisory Group for Ukraine (ACA) was announced along with its intended purpose and role in investigating alleged war crimes.
The new ACA was described as a “mechanism aimed at ensuring efficient coordination of their respective support to accountability efforts on the ground.” The group will reinforce efforts by the US, EU, and UK to ensure accountability for atrocity crimes committed by Russia in Ukraine.
What is the Purpose of the New Group?
United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the initiative will “directly support efforts by the Ukrainian Office of the Prosecutor General to document, preserve, and analyze evidence of war crimes and other atrocities committed by members of Russia’s forces in Ukraine, with a view toward criminal prosecutions.”
British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss reaffirmed the United Kingdom’s determination to hold Russia accountable for “vile atrocities” in Ukraine.
“The UK has already made a clear commitment to supporting Ukraine in its investigations, including through deploying war crimes experts to the region and releasing additional funding to aid the ICC in their investigations,” Truss added.
Specifically, the group will bring together experts from across the globe to offer strategic advice and operational support to investigations into war crimes committed by Russian soldiers. The group will also work to preserve and collect evidence relating to these crimes, including the many accusations of sexual violence and murder of civilians.
As part of the new plan, several “Mobile Justice Teams” will be established and deployed to Ukraine and eastern Europe to assist investigators on the ground. These teams will be responsible for investigation, documentation, and ultimately assisting with the prosecution of those found to have engaged in war crimes and atrocities.
What Is A War Crime?
A war crime is any action performed during a war that violates international law or the accepted conditions of war.
The definition of a war crime is established by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. Article 8 of the statute defines a war crime as a grave breach of the Geneva Conventions. These may include willful killing, torture, inhumane treatment willfully causing great suffering, extensive destruction and the appropriation of property, depriving prisoners of war their rights, taking hostages, or the unlawful deportation of civilians.
With regards to the war in Ukraine, war crimes refer to the intentional destruction of residential properties, the rape and torture of innocent civilians, and kidnapping.
Jack Buckby is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.