As the Netherlands prepared to host a ministerial meeting in The Hague on July 14 to discuss how to coordinate efforts at accountability for war crimes in Ukraine, The Hague Humanity Hub was chosen to host and moderate a meeting of NGOs to prepare their input into the meeting.
On July 13 representatives of two coalitions of Ukrainian NGOs working on recording war crimes since the Russian occupation of Crimea in 2014 and the invasion of 2022 met in The Hague, alongside many colleagues from civil society. Over the day they discussed what survivor-centred justice may look like in Ukraine and compared examples of transitional justice mechanisms from around the world. The discussants included many members of Humanity Hub’s vibrant ecosystem of accountability and human rights organisations.
In close collaboration with their Ukrainian colleagues, The Hague Humanity Hub helped develop a consultative process, gathering input for the civil society presentation to ministers the following day, from a range of experienced civil society actors. Technical partners Holland Park Media supported the Humanity Hub in making the meeting as fully hybrid as possible. Those joining online were made to feel as if they were in the room with others in the Humanity Hub café.
During the afternoon, the International Criminal Court’s prosecutor Karim Ahmad Khan came to Humanity Hub to address the civil society representatives, alongside the Netherlands Minister of Foreign Affairs, Wopke Hoekstra.
In the political statement issued at the end of the Ukraine Accountability Conference (UAC) on July 14, signed by representatives of 45 states, including Ukraine , the role of NGOs was mentioned:
“We deeply appreciate the contribution of Ukrainian citizens, residents and others, who document the crimes committed, in real time and not without danger, and recognise the important role played by a wide range of Ukrainian and international non-governmental organisations as well as investigative journalists in the documentation of alleged international crimes and the provision of support to victims.”
The NGOs made a five-minute address to ministers at the UAC, presenting their views, resulting from the consultations with around 40 Ukrainian and international NGOs, where they warned the ministers:
“Failure to prevent one conflict will inevitably result in the next. What we are truly hoping for is that the experience of accumulated suffering from all the previous conflict situations culminating up until now with Ukraine would finally be a wake – up call for each and every one of us in this room and beyond separately and together to make sure that justice and accountability do not fail anymore at being the only effective antidote for impunity”
The also called on the international community to:
“boost global efforts aimed at ensuring justice and accountability at domestic and international levels, including before the ICC, so as to avoid any perception of a two-tier global accountability system in which some victims are more deserving than others.”
The full NGO report from their meeting at the Humanity Hub will be published in due course, and a link will be added here.