The International Bar Association (IBA), the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) and the Ukrainian Bar Association (UBA) are proud to announce the International Conference on Justice and Accountability for the War in Ukraine, taking place on 27 and 28 November 2023 in Brussels, Belgium.
The International Conference will gather prominent politicians, diplomats, experts in the field and civil society organisations working on ensuring justice and accountability for Russia's war in Ukraine. It will provide an opportunity for a wide range of stakeholders to discuss the progress made to date and identify next steps in the pursuit of justice and accountability.
The first day of the International Conference, 27 November, will be hosted by Dr Samuel Cogolati, Belgian politician and member of the Chamber of Representatives at the Belgian Parliament. The full-day event, comprised of four topical panels, will provide a platform for experts to discuss the issues and formulate recommendations to progress.
The second day of the International Conference, 28 November, will be hosted by Anna Fotyga, Member of the European Parliament. The session will summarise the findings from the previous day and engage members of the European Parliament to accept and implement recommendations.
IBA Executive Director, Mark Ellis, stated: ‘The worldwide legal community uniting to defend and advance the rule of law, as well as the goals and ideals of the United Nations, was one of the main drivers behind the creation of the IBA. Naturally, the IBA has been a fervent supporter of the need to hold accountable those responsible for the atrocities perpetrated during the war since the beginning of Russia's aggressive campaign against Ukraine. It is essential to the legitimacy of the norm-based international order. There is more at risk than just Russia and Ukraine. Many states that aspire to be aggressive are closely observing how the international community responds.’
The International Conference will start with a session on collecting and documenting evidence of the crimes perpetrated in Ukraine. The panel will discuss some of the good practices and challenges of evidence collection and preservation, as well as make recommendations. On the second day of the conference, 28 November, Minister Dmytro Kuleba, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, will open the session at the European Parliament and launch the virtual reality exhibit 'Living The War.'
The second session will focus on the status of the Ukrainian justice system to prosecute atrocity crimes, looking at the law and procedure applying to war crimes trials and the way it has been put into practice so far.
The third session will engage with the proposals to establish a Special Tribunal for the Crime of Aggression, providing a platform to discuss the political will behind the initiatives and the chances of it becoming reality.
Finally, the International Conference will conclude with a session discussing the often underrepresented topic of victims, survivors and witnesses, and how to ensure that their rights are protected and their needs are addressed. The discussion will include the issue of reparations and damages for victims, looking at good practice models that could be followed; sanctions and mechanisms for the repurposing of sanctioned property.
IBAHRI Director, Baroness Helena Kennedy KC, commented: ‘The consequence of Russia's war of aggression on Ukraine is catastrophic for civilians. Many children have been deprived of their right to development, with far-reaching implications that will be difficult, if not impossible, to rectify. We are seeing tremendous international support in response to the proof of the crimes being committed, through both national legal systems and international organisations. As an international community endeavour, justice and accountability for the crimes perpetrated during the Ukrainian war necessitate close coordination. The International Conference will provide a special chance to evaluate the situation and talk about the next measures.’
UBA President, Mykola Stetsenko, stated: ‘In today's increasingly turbulent global landscape, the democratic world finds itself confronted with an unparalleled challenge to its fundamental values and very existence. Ukraine, situated at the heart of this battle, stands as a symbol of resilience and determination. The unrelenting aggression of Russia in Ukraine constitutes a grave threat to the bedrock principles of international law and order. In these trying times, it is imperative for politicians, legal experts, and thought leaders from across the globe to unite in their pursuit of viable solutions to this pressing challenge. This ongoing dialogue is not merely a necessity but a moral imperative. From the first days of Russian aggression, UBA has consistently and resolutely engaged in this dialogue at various levels. This international conference serves as an invaluable platform to further our collective quest for solutions and maintain an unwavering dialogue towards a more secure and just future’.