Joint Statement from Denmark, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Germany, and Ukraine on the High-Level Side Event: Cooperation for Accountability in Ukraine
Setting the next steps in collective action to deliver justice
Today Denmark, Germany, the Kingdom of the Netherlands and Ukraine co-hosted the High-Level Side Event “Cooperation for Accountability in Ukraine” on behalf of the co-chairs of the Group of Friends of Accountability following the Aggression against Ukraine, an informal, cross-regional group of 50 Member States and the European Union.
This event sought to further accelerate efforts aimed at strengthening coherence of collective action in support of accountability for international crimes committed in Ukraine. In doing so, the event promoted a coordinated approach that can serve as an example for effective action to ensure justice in relation to alleged atrocity crimes globally.
H.E. Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs of Germany Ms. Annalena Baerbock mentioned in her opening remarks that that there needs to be accountability for the countless breaches of international law in Russia’s brutal war of aggression against Ukraine, that there must not be impunity.
H.E. Mr. Jeppe Kofod, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Denmark, underlined “the unwavering support for upholding international law. And for seeking accountability when international law is violated.” He underlined the importance of the work and presence of ICC prosecutor Khan and Ukrainian Prosecutor-General, Kostin, saying “you are the heart of ensuring accountability for crimes committed in Ukraine. Your good cooperation is essential. And you are not alone in the fight for justice.”
The event reflected our common efforts to ensure responsibility for violations of international law connected to the invasion of Ukraine by the Russian Federation. Efforts that have never been more important than today, with the horrific images coming out of Izyum where mass graves are being unearthed.
Building on the outcome of the Ukraine Accountability Conference held on 14 July 2022 in The Hague and highlighting examples of successful action towards accountability for alleged international crimes in other contexts that may serve as a model in Ukraine, the event focussed discussions on key areas in which concrete steps can now be taken to support information-sharing and visibility of action across work by a range of accountability actors.
Through enhanced engagement, the event sought to increase the collective impact of our common work towards justice for crimes committed following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The event also underscored the duty under international law to make reparations, including compensation for the damages caused by an act of aggression as being an integral part of accountability, which is a critical element of swift post-war recovery and reconstruction of Ukraine.
The event confirmed the need to ensure a comprehensive system for accountability for serious violations of international law, in particular to secure accountability for the crime of aggression against Ukraine.
Participants noted with interest the Ukrainian proposals to establish an ad hoc special tribunal for the crime of aggression against Ukraine.
H.E. Mr. Wopke Hoekstra, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, highlighted in his statement that “a collective response means collective action. We need to keep strengthening the mechanisms that lead to prosecution. And for this, we must work together. And we are making progress.”
In his keynote speech, H.E. Mr. Dmytro Kuleba, Minister of Foreign affairs of Ukraine stressed that “the idea is very clear and straightforward – to secure accountability for the crime of aggression against Ukraine and to bring perpetrators of the crime of aggression against Ukraine to responsibility. To achieve these goals, we need a new international legal mechanism – Special Tribunal for the Crime of Aggression against Ukraine”.
Key areas addressed included:
- Ensuring effective provision of support to the Office of the Prosecutor-General of Ukraine through coordinated efforts across national and international actors.
- Ensuring the continued strong commitment to the work of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in delivering accountability in relation to alleged atrocity crimes committed in Ukraine;
- Promotion of visibility across all accountability efforts, including through Dialogue Group for Accountability in Ukraine in follow-up to the Ukraine Accountability Conference in July;
- The role the UN can play, through in particular the UNSG’s Fact Finding Mission, the Commission of Inquiry and the Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine;
- State responsibility and the role of international judicial authorities in ensuring peace and security;
- Exploration of accountability possibilities for the crime of aggression against Ukraine;
- Exploration of lessons learned with respect to the payment of compensation to victims;
- Prioritising the needs of survivors and victims of sexual and gender-based crimes.
The expert panel of today’s event was moderated by Ms. Amal Clooney and Andriy Kostin, Prosecutor-General of Ukraine, Deputy Minister of Justice of Ukraine, Ms. Iryna Mudra, Karim A. A. Khan KC, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Pramila Patten, Special Representative of the Secretary on Sexual Violence in Conflict, and Ladislav Hamran, President of Eurojust.
Today we underlined that all paths towards justice for the people of Ukraine need to be supported in a manner that ensures effort and re-sources are deployed effectively and the rights of victims are prioritized. This calls for urgent, collective and coherent action to ensure that those responsible for international crimes, including direct perpetrators and their superiors, are held accountable.