Why is Russia Opposing the Creation of the International Tribunal to Prosecute Terrorists? What is the Kremlin’s Agenda?

  • The Kremlin's official says they don't like time delays and the costs associated with trials.
  • The mandate is much needed.
  • Russia has been instrumental in destroying the Islamic State within Syria and terrorist organizations are banned in Russia.

Russia opposes the creation of an International Tribunal to prosecute foreign terrorist fighters (FTF) operating in Syria and Iraq. The official statement was made by Vladimir Tarabrin, Director of the Department for new challenges and threats of the Russian Foreign Ministry. The timing of the statement is due to the conference that was held in Vienna, Austria this week at the OSCE headquarters titled “Foreign terrorist fighters – responding to modern challenges.”

The killing of a Georgian national last year in broad daylight in Germany could in fact be interpreted as terrorism.

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) is the world’s largest security-oriented intergovernmental organization. Its mandate includes issues such as arms control, promotion of human rights, freedom of the press, and fair elections. It was founded in Helsinki, Finland in 1975.

The topics discussed at the conference:

  • Responses to incitement, recruitment for and facilitation of FTF activities;
  • Preventing FTF travel;
  • Gathering and sharing of evidence;
  • Prosecution of FTFs
  • Repatriation, rehabilitation and reintegration

The Kremlin says their reason for opposing the International Tribunal prosecuting foreign fighters is the costs associated with setting up such organizations. They also criticized the slower process pertaining to the times it takes to get to trials, as well as saying they are not as beneficial on the whole.

The definition of terrorism as per FBI

International terrorism: Violent, criminal acts committed by individuals and/or groups who are inspired by, or associated with, designated foreign terrorist organizations or nations (state-sponsored).

Domestic terrorism: Violent, criminal acts committed by individuals and/or groups to further ideological goals stemming from domestic influences, such as those of a political, religious, social, racial, or environmental nature.

Russian stance is that the only way to defeat terrorism is by large scale and covert operations geared purely to destroy the enemy and not grant them a chance at life in the first place. The Agency interlocutor explained that in this case the state, on whose territory foreign terrorist fighters are located, must either carry out criminal prosecution against them, or extradite them to the countries of which they are citizens, or to the countries against which they committed terrorist acts.

The United Nations General Assembly Security Council found that terrorism prosecution is not included in the subject matter jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court.

Terrorism has been condemned by the international community and is consisted a crime under international law (Also known as public international law and law of nations, these are a set of rules, norms, and standards generally accepted in relations between nations). The main sources of international law are treaty law, international customary law and general principles of law recognized by civilized nations. Treaties and Conventions are written agreements that states willingly sign and ratify and as such are obliged to follow. Terrrorism would fall under the guise of the customary international law.

Nevertheless, there are still those who believe that the parties engaged in the war of “liberation” (aka foreign domination) are allowed to act using terror to achieve their “noble” objective. From the traditional definition of terrorism, Russia does not engage in such activities directly. However, the killing of a Georgian national last year in broad daylight in Germany could in fact be interpreted as such. That could be the reason why Russia is opposing the creation of an international tribunal to prosecute terrorists.

At the same time, after 9/11, the United Nations General Assembly Security Council found that terrorism prosecution is not included in the subject matter jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court, but it is plausible to persecute such cases as an additional component of war crimes such as directing an attack against parties, who are not directly involved in hostile actions. It also falls under the Geneva Convention that came into effect in the 1949, which specifically prohibits acts of violence against civilians for the purpose of spreading terror onto civilian populations.

The question remains, what is the true reason for Russia’s opposition? On the one hand, Russia has been instrumental in destroying the Islamic State within Syria and terrorist organizations are banned in Russia. Yet, at the same time, they are opposing the international prosecution of terrorism.

Additional information on terrorism.

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Christina Kitova

I spent most of my professional life in finance, insurance risk management litigation.

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