In conversation with Dr Mispa Roux
The Russia-Ukrainian War is an ongoing international conflict between Russia, alongside Russian-backed separatists, and Ukraine, which began in February 2014. The conflict escalated into a full-scale war in 2022 when Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24. Although Russian forces made significant gains in the first days of combat, Ukrainian defenders rebuffed attempts to seize Kyiv and other major cities and were soon launching counter attacks at Russian positions. Since then, the war has resulted in thousands of deaths and injuries on both sides. South Africa and Russia have been deepening their military ties. The South African military hosted a joint military exercise with Russia and China on its east coast from February 17 to 27, 2023. However, South Africa’s warm relationship with Russia has caused a growing national and global concern that the country has decided to back Russia in its war against Ukraine, and perhaps even to send Russia weapons. Africa Rights Talk speaks to Dr Roux on the Russian-South Africa allyship and its impacts on South Africa’s commitment to protection of human rights.
Dr Roux discusses South Africa’s obligations under international human rights law, the powers and limitations of the International Criminal Court (ICC) regarding prosecution of human rights violations, crimes against humanity and abuse of power. Importantly, she expressed disappointment in South Africa’s non alignment approach to the Russia-Ukraine war and its decision not to prosecute or arrest Russia’s Vladimir Putin. She notes that South Africa’s protection of criminals of war validates impunity against the victims of war. She concludes that even though South Africa pulls out of the ICC to protect Russia, South Africa still has obligations under its constitution and local laws to bring criminals like Vladimir Putin to justice. She hopes that South Africa does the right thing in the end to uphold international human rights standards. See link to her Op-Ed: https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/opinionista/2023-06-04-the-law-is-clear-putin-must-be-arrested-if-he-sets-foot-in-south-africa/
Dr Mispa Roux is a project coordinator for the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) and Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria’s joint project for Sexual and Reproductive Rights in Africa (SSRA).This project is to strengthen the protection of sexual and reproductive health rights in Africa. Her academic and research interests include sexual and gender based violence in domestic and global contexts, international human rights law, and international criminal law and the intersectionality of both areas. Her doctoral thesis was entitled ‘A comparative analysis of the causes for breaching the erga omnes obligation to prevent and prosecute gross human rights violations’. She is also a senior research officer in the NRF SARChI Chair for International Constitutional Law at the University of Pretoria.
This conversation was recorded on 5 July 2023.
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