On 22 -23 January 2024 International Partnership for Human Rights (IPHR), Truth Hounds, and International Renaissance Foundation hosted an international conference, “Allied for Accountability: Collaborative Strategies to Address Russia’s Crimes in Ukraine,” in Kyiv, Ukraine.
The event brought together key actors dedicated to promoting accountability for Russia’s crimes in Ukraine. The conference combined both panel discussions, expert presentations, and group sessions to create a dynamic space for exchange among Ukrainian and international NGOs working on accountability issues, Ukrainian government institutions engaged in these efforts, and international actors supporting accountability work, such as the ICC, ACA, JIT, UN, and others.
Not only Ukraine, but many countries mobilised significant resources to ensure that immunity for grave is not an option the world can accept as an outcome of the war Russia started against Ukraine. It is important to have periodic checks if we all done enough to achieve the goal. This conference offered this opportunity for all involved, including government, civil society groups and international organisations. Roman Romanov, IRF
The conference had three main objectives:
To conduct a comprehensive review of accomplishments to date.
The goal was to take stock and reflect on the work done since Russia’s full-scale invasion. Over this period, numerous national and international initiatives emerged, leading to an exponential increase in the number of actors involved in documentation and accountability work. Given the scale and gravity of the crimes perpetrated by the occupying forces, the more organizations get involved, the more robust our collective impact becomes. However, the associated risks—such as over-documentation, evidence contamination, and re-traumatization of survivors—have also risen significantly. Adding to the complexity, coordinating activities among different groups and initiatives has become a genuine challenge. In the two days of the conference, participants tried to collectively address these roadblocks on the path toward accountability and turn their shared experiences into concrete and actionable recommendations for better coordinated and more impactful collective efforts.
To foster exchange between the competent national authorities and national and international civil society actors.
Ukraine is run by a democratically elected government and has a well-functioning judicial system with the necessary attributes to investigate and prosecute core international crimes. Ukraine’s Western allies, especially the United States, the United Kingdom, and the European Union, have been proactive in providing timely support to reinforce the capacity of competent national authorities to speed up investigations and prosecution without undermining the quality of the justice process. Yet, civil society groups, including many grassroots initiatives, play a crucial role in facilitating contact between the survivors and the competent national authorities and in providing tailored support and accompaniment to the survivors, including those who suffered torture and inhumane and degrading treatment in the hands of the occupying forces. This event aimed to provide an opportunity to assess the effectiveness of existing collaboration initiatives between competent state institutions and civil society groups and to formulate tangible recommendations, fostering a more impactful and cooperative partnership.
To brainstorm innovative strategies aimed at undermining the Russian war machine.
Civil society groups have proven to be trailblazers when it comes to innovative accountability routes. We recognize that justice will only be served when Ukraine wins this atrocious war and when Russia’s political system is subject to a full overhaul. However, until this happens, there is a significant role for civil society to play in subverting the Russian war machine. This involves us acting together and proactively exploring ways to deprive the Russian war machine of crucial revenues and access to Western technology vital for the survival of its military. To this end, civil society groups have been diligently compiling evidence packages and seeking the designation of persons and entities that are acting as enablers of the war. While also identifying the gaps in the enforcement of targeted and sectoral sanctions and successfully advocating for their prompt closure. The recent introduction of a legislative package by the EU criminalizing sanctions avoidance and facilitating asset recovery presents a unique opportunity for CSOs to scale up their efforts in this direction. With this in mind, we used this conference as a platform for creative thinking about the non-traditional tools of accountability that civil society can implement in real time to undermine the Russian war machine.
“In less than a month, it’ll be two years since Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine. Amid ongoing documentation and accountability work, we’re coming together to reflect, enhance efficiency, and deepen collaboration between civil society and state bodies. Our objectives go beyond conventional measures, aiming to undermine Russia’s brutal regime in this conflict. This marks the beginning of a broader, multilateral dialogue we hope others will join.” Simon Papuashvili, IPHR.
Our next step is the creation of a joint roadmap among Ukrainian and international CSOs. This roadmap will focus on addressing the continuing impunity gap through coordinated strategic litigation efforts with particular emphasis given to international litigation and enabling access to justice for the victims and survivors.
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