The International Court of Justice (ICJ), where attorneys representing Russia and Ukraine were to face off Monday about stopping the hostilities in Ukraine, is "a corrupt United Nations entity," not a real court, and nobody "who is anyone serious takes their reports very seriously," Harvard Law professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz said Monday on Newsmax after Russia failed to attend the opening day of hearings.
The International Criminal Court (ICC), however, which is investigating claims of war crimes against Russian President Vladimir Putin is a "very different" matter, and its rulings have "teeth," Dershowitz told "American Agenda."
"The International Court of Justice is not international," Dershowitz said. "It is not a court, and it wouldn't know justice if it fell over it. It's a corrupt United Nations entity in which governments tell the judges how to vote. Forget about the International Court of Justice."
The International Court of Justice, after opening what was to be two days of hearing at its Peace Palace at The Hague in the Netherlands on Monday, wrote in a press release, after Russia did not appear, it would begin its deliberations after hearing Ukraine's arguments that Russia must stop its attacks, but did not give a date for its ruling.
The ICC, however, is an "independent court," Dershowitz said. "It is not run by the United Nations. It was devised by a treaty, the treaty of Rome. I've argued cases in The Hague in front of international courts like this, and the International Criminal Court can do important things."
For example, the ICC can put out warrants for individuals such as Putin, Dershowitz said.
"If it were to indict and convict Putin, it would mean that Putin could be picked up anywhere on what's called a red notice or an Interpol notice and he could be brought to The Hague for trial as people have been in previous fights," he said.
Meanwhile, there are many allegations of war crimes being made after Russia's invasion, including from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy who has said an expected Russian assault on the key port of Odesa would be a war crime.
But Dershowitz said it is important to understand there are two types of war crimes, and it might not be so easy for Ukraine and others who have accused Russia to win their cases.
"One of them involves the waging of war illegally, the way Germany invaded Czechoslovakia and Poland," Dershowitz said. "Then there are war crimes committed within wars and that is targeting civilians not abiding by the rules of proportionality."
The first type of war crime, an invasion, is "obvious," and could involve an aggressive attack by Russia against Ukraine, an innocent country.
"As to the other, it's much more difficult to prove because Russia will say they were targeting military targets, legitimate targets, and the people who were killed," Dershowitz said. "[They will say] the civilians were just collateral damage, so the burden of proof is going to be much higher … but the first one should be pretty easy to prove."
Meanwhile, former Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko has called Putin a war criminal by arguing the conflict should be considered a common war because of the global security risk, but Dershowitz said he is wrong.
"That's not the way war crimes are defined by international law, so he's making a political point, not a legal point," Dershowitz said. "Legally, a war crime has to be defined without regard to what we think … war crime includes the unprovoked invasion by a guilty party against an innocent country."
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