Speech by Minister of Foreign Affairs Wopke Hoekstra at the Ukraine Accountability Conference
Speech by Wopke Hoekstra, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, during the Ukraine Accountability Conference, The Hague, 14 July 2022. Watch the speech on YouTube.
Ladies and gentlemen,
It’s great to see you all here today.
A special welcome to Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, who is joining us by video link. As is President Zelensky.
The road to justice starts with the will not just to go forward, but to do so together.
With that in mind, I would like to thank our partners in hosting this conference, the International Criminal Court and the European Commission.
The remnants of a shelled house,
in the middle of a residential area of Borodyanka.
Nearby, six makeshift graves were found.
One of them was smaller than the others.
Not much larger than the size of a baby.
These are bare facts, stripped of emotion.
Yet we cannot separate them from a powerful shared conviction.
The forensic pathologist, Bela Kubat,
who took part in the examination of the six bodies, described it as:
‘A kind of higher ethical standard that we as humanity have agreed upon.
That we do not do this.
That we do not attack civilians.
That we do not drop bombs on them.
And that, if you decide to do so, you will be held accountable.’
This standard – this shared conviction – has enormous power.
It took Bela Kubat to Ukraine, and it brought all of us here, to The Hague today.
The ICC’s forensic investigation team,
which Bela was part of,
supported local authorities in their investigation of potential war crimes.
In many ways their mission was unique.
Never before did the ICC send a team of this magnitude.
Never before did such an investigation take place so soon.
Never before did we collaborate so intensively.
Detachment commander Kim Moerman, who led the team, believes this mission can be a blueprint for the future.
But he also feels that something more is needed.
An overarching strategy to establish the truth and ensure justice.
I couldn’t agree more.
Just like a climate strategy and a COVID strategy, we need an accountability strategy.
A strategy driven by the universal belief that all of us are protected by law.
Ensuring that all roads lead to justice.
Now and in the future.
We are making progress.
The mandate of Eurojust has been reinforced, allowing it to collect and preserve evidence of war crimes.
The ICC is participating in a Joint Investigation Team for the first time.
And we are very grateful for all the contributions that participating countries have made.
Yet more is needed.
And so, today, we are making an urgent appeal to you all.
Not only to act swiftly, but above all, to persevere.
The Netherlands is donating an additional one million euros to the ICC.
We have also pledged an additional one million euros to support the UN Human Rights field office in Ukraine.
And we are pledging another one million for psychosocial support for victims of sexual violence.
We are stepping up our cooperation with the ICC,
and we will support the Ukrainian Prosecutor General at this difficult time.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Humanity’s history has been a long sequence of war upon war.
A history of impunity and suffering.
But there has also been a growing determination to fight impunity.
Not only because we owe it to today’s victims.
But also because we want to prevent future crimes.
And because the road to justice helps societies to learn from grave mis-steps.
In 1899, when the world came together for the Hague Peace Conference, the first call for the adjudication of war crimes was heard.
So much progress has been made since then.
Aggression has become an international crime.
And we’ve established a permanent international court that can hold individuals accountable.
So, in our fight against impunity, we have all the tools we need at hand.
Our next goal is to join forces, in a unified approach.
Thank you for being here.
I wish you all a successful conference.