In August 2008, an armed conflict erupted between Georgia and Russia in the pro-Russian breakaway region of South Ossetia. An estimated 850 lives were lost, and more than 100,000 civilians fled their homes during the conflict. On August 14, 2008, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) announced the commencement of a preliminary examination into the situation in Georgia. Progress was slow. However, on January 27, 2016, Pre-Trial Chamber I granted authorization to the Prosecutor to open an investigation into the situation. In Georgia, despite the presence of the necessary domestic legislative framework for prosecuting international crimes, national investigative and prosecutorial action pertaining to the alleged international crimes have come to a standstill. The initiation of the ICC’s preliminary examination and investigation was heralded by Georgian civil society, who had predominantly taken up the task of seeking redress on behalf of victims. This article outlines the background of the conflict, the ICC’s involvement in Georgia, the Georgian government actions and, most importantly, the role played by Georgian civil society in seeking justice for the alleged international crimes committed during the 2008 Russia-Georgia war. Finally, it sets out the present challenges and makes recommendations on how the ICC may better direct its efforts in Georgia.



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