Netherlands willing to house special court for Russia invasion of Ukraine, minister says

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg visits The Hague
Netherland's Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra speaks during a joint news conference with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Netherland's Defence Minister Kajsa Ollongren (not seen) as they meet to talk about the war in Ukraine and the support that the Netherlands provides, in The Hague, Netherlands November 14, 2022. REUTERS/Piroschka Van de Wouw/File Photo

AMSTERDAM, Dec 12 (Reuters) - The Netherlands would be willing to house a new, U.N.-backed tribunal to try Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Dutch Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra said on Monday.

Together with the EU, the Netherlands would seek international support and funding for the tribunal, Hoekstra said, adding the new court should not interfere with the work of the International Criminal Court (ICC), which is also housed in the Netherlands.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen last month said a new tribunal with broad international support would be needed to make sure that Russia's invasion, described as a "crime of aggression", would not remain unpunished.

An act of aggression is defined by the United Nations as the "invasion or attack by the armed forces of a state of the territory of another state, or any military occupation."

Despite the crime's recognition under international law, legal experts say the ICC's jurisdiction on aggression only extends to member states and states that have agreed to its jurisdiction, such as Ukraine but not Russia.

"There is growing consensus that we need a special tribunal to try the act of aggression, the crime of starting a war. This can't be done by the ICC," Hoekstra said.

ICC prosecutor Karim Khan, however, last week warned of the potential for fragmentation and said his court was in fact best placed for trials involving crimes of aggression as member states could fix "gaps that are said to exist".

The Netherlands is also home to the International Court of Justice and special tribunals relating to Lebanon and Kosovo. For years it also housed the tribunal for war crimes committed in former Yugoslavia.

Reporting by Bart Meijer Editing by Bill Berkrot

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