MH17 - does the Russian veto matter?

Like Will Russia veto the creation of an international tribunal to investigate the downing of MH-17
Monday, July 13, 2015 - 10:49

By Niklas Jakobsson

The potential of an MH17 tribunal has been plastered all over the news and social media over the past two weeks. Although it is arguably far-fetched, with the looming threat of a Russian veto at the Security Council, the renewed attention for the issue of accountability is definitely welcome.

Last week, the Russian government made their position on a possible MH17 tribunal very clear. Their statement came as no real surprise as news reports had already hinted at the Kremlin’s unwillingness to set up a tribunal for the downing of the Malaysian Airlines aircraft.

The Russian position was seemingly supported by a “German lawmaker” – parliamentarian Alexander Neu. The German politician believes that setting up a tribunal before the completion of the current investigation doesn’t make sense.

What is equally unsurprising is the Malaysian position on a potential tribunal. The Malaysian minister of transport, who mainly tweets in Malay, took to Twitter and made his case for why a tribunal for MH17 needs to be set up.

But Malaysia definitely doesn’t stand alone. Countries and officials from around the world have vocally expressed their support for the initiative, in statements and across social media.

In a Q&A for Justice Hub, Janet Anderson looked at what a UN-backed tribunal might look like.

“The closest precedents to this suggestion would be the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and that for Rwanda. Both were set up with UNSC approval. Both can ask the UNSC to force compliance from all members of UN. It’s seen as the best possible way to get cooperation from all parties. Mark Rutte, the Dutch prime minister, said on Friday that he believes such a tribunal would be the “best option for bringing to justice the perpetrators”.

Although only an initial assessment of what we know and don’t know, the piece sparked thoughts on other issues across social media.

A concrete proposal at the United Nations Security Council would most definitely be vetoed by Russia, leaving the discussion and points above hypothetical at best. However, the calls for a tribunal have yet again sparked the international community’s interest in accountability for the MH17 downing. Regardless of what happens at the UNSC, some sort of justice mechanism will have to be set up.


  • What do you think is the best mechanism to deal potential MH17 perpetrators?
  • Is the UNSC veto outdated when it comes to justice issues?
  • What other possible mechanisms do you see for bringing justice to the victims’ families?

Osvaldo Guttierez Gomez is a cartoonist who works for Cartoon Movement.

The Weekly Hubble features the most popular or controversial international justice story of the past week and reactions on social media to the news. 

Andrei Pastushuk

Russian veto has to be canceled, and Russia to be removed from UNSC.

Thursday, July 30, 2015 - 22:32