NPWJ Statement on the occasion of the Ministerial Ukraine Accountability Conference, to be held in The Hague, Netherlands, on 14 July 2022

13 Jul, 2022 | Press Releases

Brussels, 13 July 2022

No Peace Without Justice welcomes the initiative of the Government of the Netherlands, together with the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court and the European Commission, to hold a ministerial-level meeting on accountability for crimes being committed in Ukraine. This represents an important opportunity to reflect on how best to support and coordinate with various efforts towards justice for those crimes, in particular those pursued by Ukraine, in a way that maximises efficiency and effectiveness and, at the same time, prioritises the needs and interests of victims.

On the occasion of the Ukraine Accountability Conference, NPWJ wishes to stress four points for the consideration of participants at that meeting:

First, it is well recognised that there are numerous actors gathering information about crimes committed in Ukraine since 2014, with increased attention and action following the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. At the same time, there are numerous jurisdictions within which individuals could be prosecuted for those crimes, in particular in Ukrainian courts, in courts exercising universal jurisdiction and at the International Criminal Court. As such, there is a need for a standard, organised way to hold and share that information, to preserve the integrity of information and evidence for use in criminal proceedings and to maximise the availability of information to those jurisdictions where prosecutions may be possible. Given the different evidentiary rules, such a mechanism should include details about the methodology by which information is gathered, to increase efficiency in matching that information with those jurisdictions.

Second, there is a need to promote a victim-centred and victim-empowering approach to information-gathering, preservation and sharing. This includes minimising over-documentation, where some victims are spoken to multiple times while others are left out; resisting the commercialisation of information-gathering, whereby some entities are focused more on profit-making than the needs of victims, thereby also diverting funds from those concerned primarily with justice and redress for victims, especially Ukrainian civil society; and ensuring support for the psycho-social needs of victims, particularly those suffering from trauma, as well as other conflict-related needs such as those relating to shelter, health, food and education. States seeking to support information-gathering efforts should therefore pay particular attention to the methodologies of entities seeking to gather information, as well as their motivations.

Third, attention should be paid to building the capacity of those gathering information, where needed, particularly Ukrainian civil society. In NPWJ’s experience, civil society actors who have been supported to gather information about violations in their own countries not only have a greater capacity to reach more victims and witnesses than formal justice processes, they also have a greater capacity to empower and support civil society gathering information in other situations when the time comes. To facilitate this, and to maximise the potential use of information in criminal proceedings, there is a need for an evidentiary value assessment of information that has already been gathered. The assessment process should focus both on the probative and admissibility value of information and on providing feedback to information-providers, to enhance the effectiveness of ongoing and future information gathering.

Finally, it is important that the Ukraine Accountability Conference consider not only war crimes, but state clearly that the crime of aggression is also a crime under international law for which there is both State and individual responsibility. It is important that this crime is considered in accountability efforts, for example through the International Court of Justice, through universal jurisdiction where that possibility exists or through an ad hoc mechanisms established in cooperation with Ukraine, on which there has been much discussion.

As the world focuses on justice for Ukraine, NPWJ both supports those efforts and hopes that this marks a turning point in the strengthening of political will for justice for all war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, and all victims of those crimes, the world over.

For further information, please contact Alison Smith, Director of International Justice, on or Nicola Giovannini, Press & Public Affairs Coordinator on