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MH17 tribunal 'not an issue for UN Security Council' — American expert

July 23, 2015, 18:51 UTC+3 NEW YORK
An expert on international law and President of the US-based Global Security Institute Jonathan Granoffsuggested setting up a structure dealing with such incidents on a permanent basis
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The wreckage of the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 in Ukraine

The wreckage of the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 in Ukraine

© Mikhail Pochuyev/TASS

NEW YORK, July 23. /TASS/. The MH17 crash in Ukraine in July 2014 cannot be regarded as a threat to international peace and security, and, therefore, the UN Security Council is not an appropriate place for considering the establishment of the tribunal to identify and prosecute those responsible for the tragedy, expert on international law and President of the US-based Global Security Institute Jonathan Granoff has told TASS. Instead, he suggested setting up a structure dealing with such incidents on a permanent basis.

"It’s an isolated incident, not a systemic one, not part of an ongoing offensive, the way, say, ISIS would be," he said. "I do not think it is a threat to international peace and security, it doesn’t belong to the Security Council. It would be more legitimate, I think, for the Security Council to address the threat of ISIS. That’s an ongoing threat."

According to Granoff, "in this instance, at worst, it’s a renegade group that did it intentionally." "It’s likely that was a mistake. It appears to be more an act of negligence than an act of intent. In other words, they thought they were fighting a civil war, when they opened fire. They did not mean to shoot a civilian airliner."

However, Granoff disagreed with the view that the idea to establish the MH17 tribunal, which is actively promoted by Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, the Netherlands and Ukraine, stemmed from a desire to make "a political show." "I think that the aggrieved families have a legitimate right to have justice," he said, noting that "the legal system in Ukraine was not capable of handling this." "I think it would be legitimate for some form of commission to be created to hold somebody culpable, but I don’t think it’s an issue for the Security Council. I just don’t think it’s a threat to international peace and security.

The expert pointed to similar incidents in the past when airliners were brought down by mistake, including the Korean Airlines Flight 007 shot down over Sakhalin in 1983, and suggested creating "an ad-hoc tribunal or an institution for downed airliners, some form of international body that will deal with such matters."

The Malaysia Airlines MH17 passenger Boeing plane crashed in Ukraine’s south-eastern Donetsk region on July 17, 2014. All 283 passengers and 15 crew members, citizens of 10 countries, were killed in the crash. The basic version of the catastrophe causes was that the airliner was hit by a "ground-to-air" or an "air-to-air" missile. Ukrainian authorities and representatives of the militia of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) have blamed each other for the tragedy.

Currently, two draft resolutions relating to the air crash are under consideration at the UN Security Council. One of them — submitted by the Malaysian delegation - qualifies the incident as "a threat to international peace and security" and provides for the creation of an international tribunal to prosecute those responsible for the tragedy. The second document prepared by Russia focuses on supporting the ongoing investigation and proposes to appoint a special envoy of the UN Secretary-General to facilitate this process.

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