Delivered by the Ambassador of Finland Jukka Salovaara on behalf of the Nordic countries
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the five Nordic countries: Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and my own country Finland.
On 2 March, the General Assembly, by an overwhelming majority, deplored in the strongest terms the aggression by the Russian Federation against Ukraine in violation of Article 2 (4) of the Charter.
The General Assembly also demanded that the Russian Federation cease its use of force and withdraw all of its military forces from the territory of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders.
These demands were echoed by the International Court of Justice in its ruling of 16 March on interim measures.
We are appalled by Russia´s continued war of aggression against Ukraine, causing extensive human suffering, civilian casualties, damages estimated to have exceeded $68bn (as of April 1st) and a global food crisis, which particularly impacts developing countries.
Russia’s aggression is not only illegal and unprovoked – we also see shocking reports of atrocity crimes, including allegations of sexual violence, which are all acts unequivocally prohibited under international law.
There cannot be impunity for the most serious international crimes. All perpetrators must be brought to justice. This is necessary to ensure justice for victims, but also to deter future violations. The Nordic countries were among those State Parties that referred the situation in Ukraine to the International Criminal Court. The ICC plays a central role in our collective response at the international level. We welcome the fast mobilization of the ICC-prosecutor in the situation of Ukraine.
The ICC, however, is a court of last resort. Insofar as possible, the most serious crimes under international law should be investigated and prosecuted in national jurisdictions. Ukraine, despite being a nation under attack, has made a tremendous effort to document the most serious international crimes on its territory. We must support Ukraine in these efforts. A number of countries have also initiated criminal investigations under universal jurisdiction, complementing the efforts undertaken in Ukraine nationally and at the ICC internationally. We also applaud the many civil society organizations working tirelessly to document and collect evidence of violations of human rights and international humanitarian law and related crimes in the context of the Russian Federation’s aggression against Ukraine. Coordination and cooperation will remain key in order to ensure effective investigations.
In addition to individual criminal responsibility, we must also bear in mind that every internationally wrongful act of a state entails the international responsibility of that state. We must invoke Russia’s responsibility for the violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law. This is being advanced by various mechanisms, including under the UN Human Rights Council and the OSCE.
We also remind the Security Council of its power and duty to decisively respond to threats to international peace and security. We strongly encourage the Council to remain seized of the situation in Ukraine, also in order to advance accountability.
Ensuring accountability is an integral part of our obligation to respect and ensure compliance for human rights and international humanitarian law. Central instruments of human rights and international humanitarian law were drafted over 70 years ago and are customary international law and standards. The obligation to protect civilians is as important as ever.
Ensuring accountability is also key to bringing about durable peace. Future peace requires action now.