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Ukrainian soldiers inspecting the wreckage of a destroyed Russian armored column in Bucha, Ukraine Ukrainian soldiers inspecting the wreckage of a destroyed Russian armored column on a road in Bucha, a suburb just north of the Capital, Kyiv (SIPA photo by Matthew Hatcher via AP Images).

Condemning Russian War Crimes in Real Time Can Save Lives

Monday, April 4, 2022

Last week, United Nations human rights chief Michelle Bachelet warned that Russia may have committed war crimes in Ukraine, pointing to credible evidence that it had used cluster munitions in populated areas as well as other indiscriminate attacks. Her warning took on even more resonance over the weekend, when reports emerged of Russian forces having committed summary executions of civilian men in the Ukrainian town of Bucha.

Bachelet’s denunciation, combined with the outpouring of outrage over Bucha, is likely to renew enthusiasm for a future war crimes tribunal to hold Russia accountable. But apart from inspiring dreams of a far-off and for now unlikely formal criminal prosecution, the sort of documentation and public accountability Bachelet is engaging in has an even more important role to play in immediate conflict mitigation and, potentially, resolution. ...

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