One year ago last Friday, Vladimir Putin sent Russian military forces into Ukraine, where they have carried out a nonstop campaign of war crimes. The atrocities committed in Putin’s illegal war are crimes against all human beings everywhere.
With all the horrors of this criminal war, it is possible to summarize the overall situation as follows:
- The Ukrainian people are heroic for their solidarity, their resistance, and their defense of human rights and the rule of law. Their response to terror and invasion is an example, and a benefit to all of us.
- The war itself is a massive crime of terrorist atrocities; every person and every entity providing assistance to the Putin regime is complicit in all of its crimes. War crimes prosecutions must move ahead on all fronts, with maximum speed and rigor.
- There is no controversy here: The war is illegal; the Ukrainian people are defending innocent life, with the full force of International law on their side.
Last week, the United Nations General Assembly rightly voted to demand an immediate end to Russia’s invasion, with unconditional withdrawal of all forces. Putin’s invasion violated the United Nations Charter. That gross violation of international law is a rejection of the formal foundations of nation state legitimacy.
- All areas of international law—including trade, finance, climate, security, and human rights—will be destabilized and eroded if there is no accountability for Putin’s criminal war.
- The regime’s crimes against the Ukrainian people must be prosecuted before international tribunals.
- Its many crimes against the Russian people must also be prosecuted, either at home or internationally.
In 2023, we must as a global community—from the individual and household to nation-state governments and the United Nations—stand for the right of all people to remain safe from harm, free from menace, and secure in their humanity.