(OTTAWA) The International Criminal Court has not engaged in a battle it could not fight by issuing an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin. This was argued by his prosecutor Karim Khan on Friday during his first official visit to Canada.

“I understand why some say it’s mission impossible, but people also thought it would be impossible to indict or even arrest ex-president Milosevic,” he replied at a press conference.

Former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic died in his cell at The Hague detention center in 2006. He was facing charges of crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. The legal proceedings had then been going on since 2002.

“So we are doing our job and the international community should be doing theirs,” he continued. This moment is a decisive test. Are we content with fine words or do we want to act collectively in 2023 to eliminate these crimes of international concern. ยป

The international press highlighted this first since the Court had never issued an arrest warrant against a sitting head of state whose country is a member of the United Nations (UN) Security Council.

However, this arrest warrant may be difficult to enforce. South Africa, which will host the BRICS summit in August, seems reluctant to arrest Mr. Putin if he decides to attend. Its president Cyril Ramaphosa had indicated that South Africa could rather leave the International Criminal Court before changing its mind.

Mr. Khan said he is confident that the country of Nelson Mandela which defeated “the terrible crime of apartheid” will realize “what it means to suffer, to lose your rights, to be subjugated” and will apply the law.