ICC: A double-edged sword for Georgia?

15 October 2015 by Janet H. Anderson and Sofio Natsvlishvili, Tbilisi (Georgia)
South Ossetian Internally Displaced Persons in Skra, Georgia in March 2012 (Photo: Flickr/Marco Fieber)
Image caption: 
South Ossetian Internally Displaced Persons in Skra, Georgia in March 2012 (Photo: Flickr/Marco Fieber)

International Criminal Court prosecutor Fatou Bensouda this week made her first consequential move towards a case outside Africa by asking ICC judges to permit an investigation into the 2008 war over South Ossetia. The conflict, between Georgian, Russian and South Ossetian forces, killed hundreds and displaced thousands.

The investigation may prove the ICC’s first chance to publicly demonstrate even-handedness. This is no African rebel warlord being handed over by a government tired of an inconvenient political opponent. The move inevitably pushes the ICC further into the centre of geopolitics, where Russia is a big hitter.

The prosecution request is scrupulous in balancing what is known and what is speculative at this stage. Some Georgian quarters are jubilant that finally there will be justice for what they call “Russian aggression”. But the ICC prosecutor has referred to evidence suggesting all sides may have committed crimes.

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