SC: Ukraine - 1 year mark (GoF)

Statement by the 'Group of Friends of Accountability following the aggression against Ukraine' in the UN Security Council, 24 February 2023.

The statement was delivered by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Netherlands, Mr Wopke Hoekstra.

I am pleased to deliver this statement on behalf of the 'Group of Friends of Accountability following the aggression against Ukraine', consisting of 49 Member States and the European Union.

Today, it has been a year since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. The people of Ukraine have shown extraordinary courage and resilience this past year in their continued fight for their freedom and independence. We have witnessed images and reports of indiscriminate killings of civilians, as well as unlawful attacks on civilian infrastructure, sexual and gender-based violence and shocking reports of abductions of children. Such actions are unacceptable and constitute a violation of international law wherever they occur and must be met with the same strong response whenever they occur.

Yesterday, the General Assembly resumed its Emergency Special Session on Ukraine and once again took a strong stance in defense of the UN Charter, with the adoption of a resolution on the Charter principles underlying a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in Ukraine.

In this resolution, the General Assembly, among many important elements, emphasized the need to ensure accountability for the most serious crimes under international law committed on the territory of Ukraine. Accountability for Ukraine, Ukrainians, and for the international community as a whole is of utmost importance in order to ensure a sustainable peace.

The General Assembly has once again demonstrated its ability to take action when the Security Council was prevented from doing so by one of its permanent members.

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 firm stand against the aggressor.

We commend the efforts and initiatives already taken to ensure accountability. This includes the opening of an investigation by the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, the creation of an International Centre for the Prosecution of the Crime of Aggression, and deployment of forensic missions to Ukraine. We also welcome the establishment of the Independent UN Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine, the OSCE Moscow Mechanism and the on-going work of the Human Rights Monitoring Mission, which has documented violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law since 2014.

Of particular concern are reports of conflict-related sexual violence, including rape, as a tactic of war, which constitutes a serious violation of international humanitarian law. Conflict-related sexual violence must be countered through effective accountability measures that in turn contribute to deterrence and prevention.

Mr. Chair/ President,

We are witnessing a blatant violation of international law that concerns us all. Russia's aggression against Ukraine violates the UN Charter, which underpins peaceful coexistence and global security.

We call on the Russian Federation to abide by the order on provisional measures by the ICJ of 16 March 2022, in which the court stated that Russia shall immediately shall immediately suspend the military operations that it on 24 February 2022 in the territory of Ukraine. This is the first step to put a stop to the all too long list of crimes which require accountability. The first step to put an end to human suffering in Ukraine and ease the human suffering caused by Russia’s war, in Ukraine and globally.

The violation of the UN Charter, we are witnessing today, is an attack on the international community as a whole. We should not just seek accountability for what has already taken place, but we must also strive to prevent anyone from committing such a violation ever again, in Ukraine or elsewhere.