Brussels Declaration

Volodymyr Lincautan, lawyer of the Brussels Bar Association (Belgium) joins the signing of the Brussels Declaration, which supports the initiative of the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyi, to form an international court to investigate the crime of aggression by Russia.

The aggressive war launched by Russiaʼs regime against Ukraine shattered international peace and security in Europe and undermines respect for human rights and international law. We strongly condemn this illegal war that the Kremlin continues to wage in defiance of decisions of the two principal organs of the United Nations: the General Assembly and the International Court of Justice. Furthermore, we note the findings of the International Independent Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine that the Russian side committed war crimes and crimes against humanity in the course of this armed conflict.

We consider it a moral obligation towards victims of those atrocious crimes that justice be a part of any sustainable peace. The perpetrators of those crimes must be held accountable using, in particular, appropriate international mechanisms. In this regard, we support the investigation by the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court into the situation in Ukraine. We reject the threats by the Russian authorities against the Prosecutor and the Judges of the Court.

We emphasize the central role of the crime of aggression that made possible the large-scale commission of other international crimes. The prosecution of political and military leaders, who planned, initiated, and continue to wage this war of aggression, as well as their accomplices, is indispensable for bringing justice to a large number of victims.

We underscore that the planning, preparation, initiation, and execution of this war of aggression constitute a crime under general international law and the criminal laws of Ukraine and Russia.

Given that the crime of aggression is, by definition, committed by political and military leaders of the state, as well as the inability of the ICC to exercise jurisdiction over this crime in the situation in Ukraine, we support the initiative of Ukraine, other states, and international organizations to establish a special international tribunal for the crime of aggression. This initiative is firmly based in international law and the designation of Russiaʼs invasion of Ukraine as an act of aggression by the overwhelming majority of U.N. member states. Such a tribunal will be able to exercise jurisdiction irrespective of the official position of defendants and immunities they might enjoy under international and national law.

This war became possible because previous grave crimes committed by Russiaʼs leadership and military on its own soil and abroad went unpunished. The chain of impunity that leads to reoccurring criminality should be broken. We stand ready to help achieve accountability for the perpetrators and reparations for their victims.