Speech by H.E. Minister of Foreign Affairs and Deputy Prime Minister of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Wopke Hoekstra, on behalf of the Group of Friends of Accountability following the Aggression against Ukraine

Speech by H.E. Minister of Foreign Affairs and Deputy Prime Minister of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Wopke Hoekstra, on behalf of the Group of Friends of Accountability following the Aggression against Ukraine, UN Security Council, 24 February 2023

Mr. President,

I am here today on behalf of the 'Group of Friends of Accountability following the aggression against Ukraine'.

A Group of 49 Member States and the European Union, that share one strong conviction:

that the power of justice should always prevail over the power of force. 

Today, it has been exactly one year since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

The people of Ukraine have shown extraordinary courage and resilience, in their continued fight for their freedom and independence.

We have seen horrendous images and reports of indiscriminate killings of civilians:

Men, women, children.

We have seen unlawful attacks on civilian infrastructure:

Houses, schools, hospitals.

We have seen horrendous reports of sexual and gender-based violence and abductions of children.

Mr President,
Such actions are unacceptable.

They violate international law.

Wherever they occur they must be met with the same strong response: this cannot stand.

Accountability and justice for Ukraine,

for Ukrainians,

and for the international community as a whole,

is of the utmost importance to ensure a sustainable peace.

Yesterday, the General Assembly resumed its Emergency Special Session on Ukraine.

Once again the General Assembly took a strong stance in defense of the UN Charter.

By adopting a resolution on the Charter principles, underlying a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in Ukraine.

In this resolution, the General Assembly emphasized the need to ensure accountability for the most serious crimes under international law, committed on the territory of Ukraine.

Mr President,

Our quest for justice,

our fight against impunity,

our fight against violations of international law,

should not, must not, and cannot be pursued without taking a firm, collective stand against the aggressor.

We commend the efforts and initiatives already taken to ensure accountability.

This includes the deployment of forensic missions to Ukraine;

The opening of an investigation by the ICC prosecutor;

The creation of an International Centre for the Prosecution of the Crime of Aggression and a register of damages, to be located in The Hague.

We welcome the establishment of the Independent UN Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine.

And the establishment of the OSCE Moscow Mechanism.

We commend the on-going work of the Human Rights Monitoring Mission, which has documented violations since 2014.

Of particular concern are the reports of conflict-related sexual violence, including rape as a tactic of war.

These crimes constitute serious violations of international humanitarian law.

Conflict-related sexual violence must be countered through effective accountability measures.

Measures that will contribute to deterrence and prevention of these horrendous crimes.

Mr. President,

Russia's aggression against Ukraine violates the UN Charter, which underpins peaceful coexistence and global security.

We call on the Russian Federation to abide by the order on provisional measures by the ICJ of 16 March 2022.

The court stated that Russia shall immediately end the military operations that it commenced on 24 February 2022 in the territory of Ukraine.

This is the first step to put an end to the all too long list of crimes which require accountability; which require justice.

The first step to put an end to human suffering in Ukraine; and ease the human suffering caused by Russia’s war.

In Ukraine, and clearly also globally.

Mr President,

The violation of the UN Charter we are witnessing today, is an attack on the international community as a whole.

We should not just seek accountability for what has already taken place.

We must also strive to prevent anyone,

and I say anyone,

from committing such a violation ever again.

In Ukraine, or elsewhere.

Thank you, Mr.  President.