Joly ups cash for International Criminal Court sex-crime probes, as Russia rift grows

Cash for International Court

Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly is announcing another $1 million for the International Criminal Court.

The money is meant to support the court's investigations into sexual and gender-based violence and crimes against children around the world. It doubles Ottawa's funding for those initiatives, as Canada helps the tribunal look into possible Russian war crimes in Ukraine.

Joly spoke in Poland at a summit of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the continent's largest security organization and one of the last forums where Russia and the West can discuss defence and conflict.

The 57-member group is best known for monitoring elections but has also helped prevent wars andstabilize countries after conflicts from Bosnia to Tajikistan.

The two-day meeting in Lodz, Poland, is the first such high-level meeting since Russia invaded Ukraine in February, a conflict the OSCE has been unable to resolve.

Before Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the OSCE acted as a mediator, negotiating the peace deals for eastern Ukraine following a Russian-backed separatist war that began there in 2014. In March, the OSCE discontinued its special monitoring mission to Ukraine.

Poland has barred Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov from entering the country or sending anyone to attend the summit that started Thursday, but he argued in a virtual press conference that sidelining Moscow won't lead to peace in Ukraine.

“I can say responsibly that Poland's anti-chairmanship of the OSCE will take the most miserable place ever in this organization's history,” Lavrov said in Russian.

“Our Polish neighbours have been digging a grave for the organization by destroying the last remains of the consensus culture.”

He accused the West of mounting a takeover of the OSCE instead of using it as a bridge to maintain diplomatic conversations.

Moments later, Joly addressed the summit, and responded that Russia is rejecting dialogue.

“Russia has not only shattered trust between participating states of this organization, but also on the global scale,” she said in French.

"The Russian president's thirst for ambition and control replaced his conscience and he chose to unleash the violence of his troops on the civilian population of Ukraine," she said, referring to Vladimir Putin.

Russia sent a delegate already stationed in Europe to the ongoing summit, who accused Western powers of undermining Europe's security structure. Its close ally Belarus echoed that argument, saying the West is unfairly isolating both countries.

The pair have sought to block proposals from the other 55 members of the group, including regular administrative processes.

"No participating state should be able to unilaterally block the OSCE's budget or the mandates of its field missions," Joly said.

Ukraine called for Russia to be expelled from the meeting.

Belarus sent a delegate after the sudden death last week of its foreign minister, Vladimir Makei, at age 64. Belarusian authorities didn't give the cause of Makei's death, and he wasn't known to suffer from any chronic illness, triggering speculation about possible foul play.

The OSCE was established in 1975 at a time of Cold War détente. Its approach to security is undergirded by an emphasis on human rights and economic development in conjunction with military security.

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