The Hauge (Reuters) – The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court on Thursday asked a coalition of countries in The Hague to back his war-crimes investigation in Ukraine, saying “things can get worse” if the international community fails to act now.
ICC Chief Prosecutor Karim Khan was speaking to a meeting of a British-led coalition, including prosecutors and justice ministers from dozens of countries, who have offered the Hague court financial, military and legal assistance.
Khan opened a formal inquiry into war crimes and crimes against humanity in Ukraine on Feb. 28, four days after Russia invaded its smaller neighbour.
It will examine possible atrocities on both sides of the conflict, looking into events as far back as Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.
Neither Russia nor Ukraine are members of the ICC, but Kyiv has authorised the court to investigate on its territory and a team of investigators is collecting evidence in Ukraine.
On Thursday, Khan called on nations to come together to hold accountable those responsible for atrocities.
“If we seize this moment collectively. If we can fortify the rule of law.. .it is to the benefit not only of this office, or to the ICC, but to the whole international legal order,” Khan said.
“If we do not collectively step up…things can get worse and history will not judge us well and victims around the world will not judge us well.”