Many thanks to Albania and France for convening this meeting. Norway joins others in thanking today’s briefers for clearly underlining the need for accountability for atrocities committed in Ukraine. And for shedding light on different mechanisms and initiatives being undertaken to ensure this.
The UN Charter applies to all nations - including Russia. Yet, there is no doubt that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a blatant violation of international law, including the UN Charter. And Norway is appalled by Russia’s methods of warfare.
Numerous credible reports have described in horrible detail the relentless, attacks against civilians. These atrocities shock the very conscience of humanity.
Non-combatants including women, children, and refugees have become victims, and vital civilian infrastructure levelled, in blatant violations of international law.
It is imperative that we hold all perpetrators to account, through both credible national- and international- criminal justice mechanisms.
Accountability is key. Both to ensure justice for the victims, and to deter - and prevent - future violations. Appropriate mechanisms are therefore necessary to gather evidence and to adjudicate.
Those committing atrocities must know that their actions will never be forgotten – war crimes will be investigated, and individuals at all levels held to account for their actions.
We are grateful for today’s briefing by the Prosecutor of the ICC- and are pleased that his Office has initiated investigations of possible war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Ukraine. Norway remains a strong supporter of the ICC and was among the unprecedented number of 41 states referring the situation in Ukraine to the Court. There can be no doubt that the ICC’s mission remains as crucial as ever, both in the context of Ukraine and globally.
Norway underscores also the importance of the ruling of the International Court of Justice last month, which clearly and unequivocally ordered Russia to immediately suspend its military operations in Ukraine. Russia’s disregard of this significant ruling - which it is obliged to heed - is deplorable.
Norway also welcomes the establishment of the Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine by the Human Rights Council, which is mandated to investigate violations and abuses of human rights, and violations of international humanitarian law- in the context of Ukraine. We expect that the Commission will identify individuals and entities responsible for violations, and contribute to holding them to account.
We have a common interest in ensuring that perpetrators of international crimes do not escape with impunity.
Therefore, the adoption by the General Assembly of the resolution “Aggression against Ukraine”, calling all parties to strictly respect the relevant provisions of international humanitarian law and international human rights law, sent an important signal from the international community.
And, Norway commends the founders of the Group of Friends for Accountability in Ukraine for creating a valuable platform to engage, and promote synergies between the various measures that are being initiated at: national, regional, and international levels to ensure accountability in Ukraine.
To end, let me reiterate. Accountability is essential. Violations of international law cannot go unchallenged. International law is not optional.