Other states have a legal and moral duty to stop Moscow.
The fundamental objective of the Genocide Convention is prevention, as its title, the “Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide,” reflects, and as Article I expressly proscribes. The International Criminal Court (ICC) determined in the 2002 Rome Statute that a state’s responsibility to prevent genocide, and the concurrent duty to act, is activated the moment the state becomes aware, or should have become aware, of a serious risk that genocide may occur. This preventive obligation extends beyond a state’s territorial boundaries, applying wherever it might be able to act appropriately.
That’s a big obligation on the part of state parties, and one they’ve often failed to meet, most notoriously in Rwanda and Bosnia. But Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine offers a clear challenge to the signatories of the Genocide Convention—which include Russia itself—to act to prevent genocide. The risk of genocide in Ukraine was brutally clear last year; today, the invasion should be framed not only as a potential genocide but as an ongoing one, the evidence for which our recent work at the New Lines Institute and the Raoul Wallenberg Centre lays out in detail in a new report that concludes the Russian Federation has actively commissioned genocide in Ukraine.
Ukrainians are living through a period of historic torment. In Bucha in spring 2022, a well-documented massacre took place. The same year, thousands of Ukrainian children were taken to Russia for forced adoptions to stop them coalescing as a single identity group. Though these crimes are widely acknowledged, despite Russia’s best efforts at denial, the standard of proof required at the ICC to create such a legal obligation is very high—proportionate to the severity of the offense—and sound legal argument is needed to connect the evidence to the legal text of the relevant articles.
Read the rest in Foreign Policy.