On 1 February 2023, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark, the Ukrainian Embassy in Copenhagen and the British Embassy in Copenhagen were co-hosting the international conference “Accountability for war crimes in Ukraine: A Focus on a Survivor Centred Approach and Conflict-related Sexual Violence” in Copenhagen.
The conference was opened by Minister for Foreign Affairs of Denmark Lars Løkke Rasmussen, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Dmytro Kuleba and Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office of the United Kingdom Leo Docherty. The event brought together representatives from leading international civil society, the UN and the International Criminal Court.
In the first panel of the conference, focusing on supporting Ukraine in holding Russian perpetrators accountable for crimes relating to sexual violence committed in Ukraine, Ihor Korol took part as a panellist, who is a representative of the Department for Countering Crimes Committed in Conditions of Armed Conflict, Office of the General Prosecutor of Ukraine.
The second panel of the conference, which discussed lessons learned from other conflicts and how the international community may support Ukrainian civil society organisations in their work with survivors of war crimes, was attended by panellists from the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group and the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union. The event was also attended by representatives of Ukrainian human rights organizations – the Civil Network OPORA, the Transatlantic Dialogue Centre, and the Information Centre for Human Rights ZMINA.
The Copenhagen conference was built up on the international Ukraine Accountability Conference which took place on 14 July 2022 in The Hague, the ministerial-level side event held on 22 September 2022 at last year’s UN General Assembly “Cooperation for Accountability in Ukraine – setting the next steps in collective action to deliver justice”, as well as the International Ministerial Conference on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict Initiative held in London on 28-29 November 2022.
The Copenhagen conference took stock of existing efforts taken by a range of accountability actors. Experts from governments, the International Criminal Court, the United Nations and Ukrainian civil society discussed how to ensure accountability for conflict-related sexual violence perpetrated by the Russian occupiers, and how to ensure that documentation and evidence gathering is done through a survivor-centred approach.
The event laid another stone in the foundation of restoring justice for the people of Ukraine. The panellists explored the different ways in which the international community can continue to support efforts to seek accountability for the perpetrators of international crimes in Ukraine.
Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Dmytro Kuleba, who made an online address to the participants of the conference, emphasized that every Russian criminal must be brought to justice. He urged to support a Special Tribunal for the crime of aggression against Ukraine to punish those who cannot be judged within existing institutions, and also invited Denmark and the United Kingdom to take the lead in the implementation of one point of the Ukrainian Peace Formula, namely “Restoring Justice”.
An important topic of the speech was accountability for conflict-related sexual violence. The Minister recalled the creation of a specialized department in the Office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine to exclusively investigate these types of crimes and recognized the efforts of the Danish Institute against Torture which helps collect and store evidence, and document the Russian atrocities.
Dmytro Kuleba thanked all states and professionals who are providing financial, technical, analytical, legal and expert assistance to bring Russian criminals to justice. He separately thanked Denmark for its support for the work of the International Criminal Court.