Ukraine Accountability Conference: a step towards justice
Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, there have been shocking reports of gross violations of international human rights law and of international humanitarian law. Today, at the Ukraine Accountability Conference in The Hague, important steps have been taken that will contribute to accountability for the international crimes committed in Ukraine.
The participants commit to working towards the establishment of a Dialogue Group on Accountability for Ukraine (“the Dialogue Group”) with the objective of promoting dialogue across the various relevant national, European and international accountability and documentation initiatives. The purpose is to achieve coherence, efficiency and effectiveness across the diverse range of actions currently being taken.
Through close collaboration with the Ukrainian Prosecutor-General’s Office (PGO) and international partners like the ICC, the European commission, the joint investigation team and Eurojust existing initiatives are mapped and specific gaps and technical needs that are not yet met through current initiatives are addressed.
The promoted measures aim at aligning and combining interventions from national authorities and all relevant national and international organizations, in order to strengthen and expand the capacity and resources available for investigations in Ukraine. This includes the deployment of forensic and investigative teams under the aegis of the ICC.
Parties have committed to ensuring that investigative efforts, and in particular engagement with witnesses, are aligned with international standards and carried out in a manner that preserves the integrity of potential evidence before national and international courts.
This requires closer engagement with civil society organizations and other stakeholders involved in documentation efforts in Ukraine for accountability purposes. Where relevant, such initiatives should build on the expertise of the ICC, Eurojust and the EU Genocide Network.
In Ukraine, sexual and gender-based crimes and crimes against children are used as a method of warfare. To effectively engage with those suffering from trauma as a result of such sexual violence, there is a strong need for a victim-centred and survivor-based approach. Efforts are strengthened to ensure that Ukrainian national authorities and relevant states and international organizations, including the ICC, benefit from specialized psycho-social expertise.
Actions currently taken by state actors and international organisations and courts could provide a blueprint for more effective and coherent action with respect to the investigation and prosecution of international crimes around the world.