The statement was delivered by the Danish Minister of Foreign Affairs Jeppe Kofoed
I am pleased to deliver this statement on behalf of the 'Group of Friends of Accountability following the aggression against Ukraine', consisting of 48 Member States and the European Union.
We have since the 24th of February witnessed images and reports of indiscriminate killings of civilians, including women, children and elderly, as well as attacks on civilian infrastructure.
We are horrified by the reports from Bucha, the strike on the Kramatorsk railway station, and the widespread reports of crimes of sexual and gender based violence.
As underlined by the UN Secretary General, such attacks are gross violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law, for which the perpetrators must be held accountable.
The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court is already investigating the situation. The UN Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine will investigate violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. And the three experts appointed under the OSCE Moscow Mechanism have recently delivered their report, citing a clear pattern of violations of international humanitarian law and the most basic human rights by Russian forces.
These efforts are complemented by national investigations, and the important work carried out on the ground by OHCHR and civil society actors to collect and preserve evidence.
The Group of Friends will support these efforts to bring war criminals to justice. We acknowledge this journey can sometimes be long and costly. It can take years. And we will be there to sustain the process. No matter how many years.
While we pursue the legal path of accountability, the UN Security Council and General Assembly can and should express their concerns and condemnations of the unprovoked acts of aggression, the attacks on innocent civilians and civilian infrastructure, reports of human rights violations and breaches of humanitarian law.
Our quest for justice, our fight against impunity for violations of international law, should not, must not, and cannot be pursued without collectively taking a stand against a powerful aggressor.
It is therefore not premature to react politically - in real time - against Russia given credible reports that its military forces are committing atrocities against civilians.
Today we underline the importance of ensuring accountability for these crimes.
Without accountability, crimes will continue, and impunity will persist, undermining legitimacy and the prospects for future peace and reconciliation. Thank you.
GoF members: Albania, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canada, Colombia, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Montenegro, the Netherlands, New Zealand, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States of America