Ukraine Accountability Conference

The Hague, 14 July 2022


Minister Hoekstra,

Prosecutor Khan,

Commissioner Reynders,

Ministers, Excellencies, Distinguished Participants,

The Council of Europe is grateful for this timely conference. We stand firmly with our member state, Ukraine, in the face of Russia’s aggression.

The main pillar of our support is the European Convention on Human Rights.

While the Russian Federation was expelled from the Council of Europe, the European Court of Human Rights continues to have jurisdiction over facts imputable to Russia and occurring before the 16th of September 2022, as provided for by the European Convention on Human Rights.

But upholding the rule of law and human rights also remains paramount for Ukraine, which has primary responsibility for the protection of the rights of victims and the prosecution of perpetrators of war crimes.

Ukraine availed itself of its right to derogate from its obligations to secure certain rights and freedoms under the Convention in time of war. It did so in accordance with and within the strict limits allowed by the Convention.

This only confirms Ukraine´s willingness to continue operating in line with European standards on human rights and the rule of law. We can only be grateful to Prosecutor General Venediktova and the Ukrainian authorities for their determination to ensure the implementation of the European Convention on Human Rights despite the harrowing circumstances. We are helping the country doing just this:

Inter alia, we provide advice and training on Convention requirements in terms of effective investigations into crimes – including war crimes – that amount to massive breaches of the right to life and the prohibition of torture. We also provide concrete assistance on the functioning of the justice system in times of war, for example through expert advice on remote judicial work.

This work remains within our Organisation’s strict mandate; it has been defined with Ukraine and was agreed by all our 46 member states.

We believe that these are important principles to follow when ensuring complementarity in the ongoing laudable efforts by Ukrainian stakeholders and the international community.

Please be assured of the Council of Europe’s willingness to actively participate in future coordination work.

Thank you for your attention.