phase: Situations & Cases
The Situation in Georgia focuses on alleged atrocity crimes committed during an international armed conflict, also known as the 2008 Georgian-South Ossetia conflict or the 2008 Russo-Georgian war, which involved Georgian government forces, South Ossetian separatist forces, and Russian government forces. The armed conflict occurred from July 1 to October 10, 2008.
Under the Soviet Union, South Ossetia was transferred as an autonomous region to Georgia. In the 1980s, South Ossetian separatists began to agitate for independence. From 1991 to 1992, Georgian government forces and South Ossetian separatists, supported by Russian government forces, fought for control over the territory. In 1992, Georgia and South Ossetia signed the Sochi agreement which established a ceasefire.
By 2008, long-simmering tensions amongst Georgia, South Ossetia, and Russia boiled over. On August 5, 2008, Russia declared that if there was conflict between Georgia and South Ossetia, Russia would defend the rights of Russians in South Ossetia. On August 7, 2008, despite a peace attempt, Georgia launched an attack on South Ossetia’s capital Tshkinvali to regain control over the territory. On August 8, 2008, Russian tanks entered South Ossetia. On August 12, 2008, Russian government forces entered Georgia. South Ossetian separatist forces, along with Russian forces, attacked ethnic Georgian civilians, pillaged towns, and forcibly displaced civilians from South Ossetia. South Ossetian separatist forces attacked Georgian peacekeepers, and Georgian government forces attacked Russian peacekeepers. On August 13, 2008, Georgia and Russia agreed to a ceasefire agreement. On August 18, 2008, after creating a buffer zone between Georgia and South Ossetia, Russia pulled back its forces from Georgia to the buffer zone. On October 8, 2008, after months of continued hostilities, Russian withdrew its forces from the buffer zone back to South Ossetia.
Georgia is a State Party to the International Criminal Court (ICC) and ratified the Rome statute on September 5, 2003. On August 14, 2008, after receiving communications of alleged atrocity crimes committed in Georgia, the ICC Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) announced a preliminary examination. On March 17, 2015, the government of Georgia informed the OTP that Georgia had indefinitely suspended national proceedings (according to OTP information, some domestic investigations in Russia regarding certain alleged crimes are ongoing). In a November 2015 report, the OTP determined that there is a reasonable basis to believe that South Ossetian separatist forces and Georgian government forces committed war crimes, and that South Ossetian separatist forces committed crimes against humanity. On October 13, 2015, the OTP requested authorization to conduct a formal investigation, which was granted by Pre-Trial Chamber I on January 27, 2016. The investigation is focused on alleged crimes committed between July 1 – October 10, 2008 in and around South Ossetia, in particular the crimes against humanity of murder, forcible transfer, and persecution, and the war crimes of attacks against civilian populations, willful killing, directing attacks against peacekeepers, destruction of property, and pillaging. Within the Situation in Georgia, there are no specific cases.
The ICC maintains a field office in Tbilisi, Georgia.
For more information on the Situation in Georgia, visit the ICC page.
[Updated July 27, 2020]