Update: Since the initial publication of this article, Russia has vetoed the draft resolution proposing an international tribunal to investigate the downing of flight MH17. The vote was held in a Security Council meeting on July 29th.
Russia opposes a draft resolution on the establishment of a criminal tribunal to investigate the crash of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 last year. News sources report that Russian officials call the draft resolution “counterproductive” and “an attempt to organize a grandiose, political show, which only damages efforts to find the guilty parties.”
Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 was shot down over the Ukraine in July last year in an incident that killed all 298 passengers and sparked an international crisis. The flight was headed from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur and most of the passengers were Dutch nationals. Western countries and the Ukraine have accused Ukrainian rebels of the shooting and Russian authorities of supporting the rebels.
A draft resolution on the establishment of a tribunal to investigate the events was distributed to the Security Council last week. It is backed by Council member Malaysia and supported by non-members the Netherlands, Belgium, Ukraine and Australia. Russia quickly dismissed the draft, citing bad timing and accusing the backers of the draft of trying to make a “political show”.
Among the critical voices from the Russian Federation is UN ambassador Vitaly Churkin who said Friday that he sees “no future whatsoever” for the draft resolution. Russia has also denied that the state supplied the Ukrainian rebels with the weapons system claimed to have been used to fire on the aircraft.
A final report by Dutch investigators is expected shortly. The initial report, published in September last year, established that the aircraft had been hit by a “number of high-energy objects”, suggesting it was shot down.
“A tribunal established by the council would ensure broad international support for prosecutions and would maximize the prospects of securing international cooperation, which will be necessary for an effective prosecution” Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Julie Bishop, said in support of the current draft resolution.
The downing of MH17 drew heavy attention last year as it concerned not only Russia and the Ukraine but also Malaysia, the Netherlands and several other states whose nationals were among the killed. It followed only months after another Malaysian Airlines flight went missing en route to Beijing, causing fear among passengers. There are no links between the incidents, however.
After heated negotiations, Russia has vetoed a draft resolution in the Security Council that labels the Srebrenica massacre a “genocide”. This follows a request from Serbia to stop the draft.
The draft resolution, presented by the UK and US, would commemorate the 20th anniversary of the massacre. It calls for better genocide prevention as well as condemning the massacre as well as calling it “a crime of genocide”. The vote had already been pushed forward to allow for further negotiations.
The veto follows a reported request from Serbia, with whom Russia has close cultural ties, to use its veto power. Russian and Serbian officials have been criticizing the Anglo-American draft for being unbalanced and risk increasing ethnic divisions in Bosnia. A rival draft has been presented by Russia, although no vote has been scheduled.
Russia’s UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said after the vote that adopting the resolution “would be counter-productive, would lead to greater tension in the region”. British UN Ambassador Matthew Rycroft has said that the draft is was not “anti-Serbian” and that the genocide status is “political fact”.
The Srebrenica massacre took place on July 11th 1995 in the midst of the Bosnian War. 8,000 Muslims were executed by Serbian soldiers, under the command of General Ratko Mladic. The events were the subject of an investigation by the Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia where the tribunal ruled that they did constitute genocide.
Numerous people have already been convicted of genocide for involvement in the Srebrenica massacre by the UN Tribunal at The Hague, but formal recognition by the UN could compel individual states to pursue prosecutions.