Restoring Justice for Ukraine Conference: press statement by Minister Bruins Slot

Press statement by Minister of Foreign Affairs Hanke Bruins Slot, at the Restoring Justice for Ukraine Conference in The Hague, on 2 April 2024.

Read also: Minister Bruins Slot’s opening speech and closing remarks at the Restoring Justice for Ukraine Conference.

Good afternoon,

First, let me thank our co-hosts and all the participants for their invaluable contributions to this conference. I’m truly impressed by your dedication. Ukraine has asked the Netherlands to be the lead nation on ‘Restoring Justice’, point seven of President Zelenskyy’s Peace Plan. Since the outset, we have been more than willing to take on that role. We aim to be a reliable partner for Ukraine on the long road to justice and accountability— a road we’ve started together and we want to finish together.

The start of Russia’s full-scale war against Ukraine, left tens of thousands dead and injured, and millions more displaced. Over 100,000 alleged international crimes have been documented so far. More than 200,000 homes, almost 4,000 schools, and some 400 hospitals either lie in ruins, or are badly damaged. Not to mention the intangible, undocumented damage, inflicted on the lives of the Ukrainian people.

And everyone here agrees: Russia must be held accountable. Russia must pay for these appalling violations. And we must support Ukraine and the ICC in achieving these goals. Even though their justice system is at risk of collapsing under the weight of these atrocities, Ukraine remains determined in the pursuit of justice and accountability. And so do we. We’re prepared to take all steps necessary to ensure the perpetrators are brought to justice. If necessary at international level.

And all steps necessary to ensure that the crime of aggression is addressed by a special tribunal; and that Russia pays for the damage it has inflicted.

Let me mention some of those steps.

Today, the first compensation claims have been submitted to the Register of Damage for Ukraine. More than 100 claims, already today. Less than eighteen months ago, this was just an idea. As of today, the Register is fully operational. The Register is the first step towards a fully-fledged compensation mechanism, which will have the power to deny or grant registered claims. The Netherlands is willing to host this compensation mechanism under certain conditions. The conference provided political guidance on the discussion of the next step in this process; a claims commission. We will also be discussing whether, and if so how, we can use frozen Russian assets, or at least their proceeds. To support Ukraine in its self-defence, in its reconstruction efforts, and to compensate Russia’s victims. Additionally, the Netherlands allocates 10 million euros this year to support the investigation and prosecution efforts of Ukraine.

Impunity thrives on silence. Today we have spoken up. We have said in a single, clear, loud voice: We don’t accept impunity. Not in Ukraine. Nor anywhere else. We will continue to use that voice for as long as it takes. Until there is peace and justice for Ukraine and its people.

Thank you.