War in Ukraine: Switzerland calls for special tribunal

Press releases, 16.11.2023

Switzerland has pledged its support for the establishment of a special tribunal to address the crime of aggression against Ukraine. This commitment was announced today in Berlin, where Switzerland confirmed its membership in the core group of nations advocating for such a tribunal. Switzerland is firmly convinced that the aggression against Ukraine must not go unpunished.

The countries advocating for a special tribunal for the crime of aggression against Ukraine have been convening for several months within a core group of nations. Their collective efforts are focused on devising solutions for the practical design of the tribunal, including its format, location and working methods.

Over recent months, the initiative has garnered support from 38 countries, including France, Germany, Norway, Guatemala, Japan and Canada. Switzerland officially joined the core group at a meeting in Berlin on 16 November 2023.  Ambassador Franz Perrez, head of the FDFA's Directorate of Public International Law (DIL), represented Switzerland.

According to the FDFA, the success of such a tribunal will hinge on several factors: it should be integrated into a multilateral framework and enjoy broad international support; it should complement existing mechanisms, particularly the International Criminal Court (ICC); it should have a robust legal basis and adhere to international norms and standards. Lastly, it should be international in nature. Switzerland intends to work actively to ensure that these considerations are taken into account.

Switzerland's participation in this core group supplements its support for national and international efforts to prosecute and judge all international crimes committed in Ukraine. These initiatives are in line with Switzerland's long-standing commitment to fight impunity.

While the ICC has the authority to prosecute and judge war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Ukraine, it lacks jurisdiction over the crime of aggression in this conflict. This is because the court's jurisdiction over this crime requires both the state of the alleged perpetrators and the state that is the victim of the aggression to have ratified the Rome Statute (the international treaty that established the ICC). As neither Ukraine nor Russia has ratified the Rome Statute, the ICC cannot prosecute this crime.

In addition to advocating for the creation of a special tribunal to prevent impunity in this specific case, Switzerland will strive for a revision of the Rome Statute to facilitate the ICC's jurisdiction to judge the crime of aggression in all contexts.

Address for enquiries:

FDFA Communication
Federal Palace West Wing
CH-3003 Bern, Switzerland
Tel. Press service: +41 58 460 55 55
E-mail: kommunikation@eda.admin.ch
Twitter: @SwissMFA


Federal Department of Foreign Affairs