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World leaders gather in Switzerland on June 15 and 16 for talks on Ukraine

(KYIV, June 14, 2024)—U.N. member states should support the Ukraine Peace Summit and ensure accountability for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and the crime of aggression committed by Russia in Ukraine, said Fortify Rights today. World leaders and senior officials representing at least 80 countries are expected to attend the two-day Summit starting tomorrow in Luzern, Switzerland.

Ending the ongoing war of aggression in Ukraine and mass atrocities being committed by Russia should be a global priority,” said Vyacheslav Likhachev, Human Rights Associate at Fortify Rights. “But peace in Ukraine should not come at the price of impunity for Russia’s mass atrocities. The victims of Russia’s war crimes and crimes against humanity in Ukraine deserve accountability.”

On June 15 and 16, Switzerland will host the Ukraine Peace Summit, the first high-level international conference dedicated to finding mechanisms to overcome the crisis caused by Russia’s full-scale and ongoing armed aggression against Ukraine that started in February 2022. This meeting builds on several rounds of previous consultations held in Denmark, Saudi Arabia, Malta, and Switzerland.

The conceptual framework for discussions at the Summit will focus on three points of a ten-point peace plan proposed by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Specifically, the Summit will provide an opportunity to discuss nuclear safety, food security for Asian and African countries, and the release of all prisoners and the return of Ukrainian children deported to Russia. Other topics in Zelensky’s peace plan include: energy security, ecological safety, withdrawal of Russian troops and cessation of hostilities, restoration of the internationally recognized Russia–Ukraine border, prosecution of war crimes in the Russian invasion of Ukraine, preventing escalation and repetition of aggression, and then confirmation of the end of the war.

Earlier, the G7 countries and E.U. expressed support for Zelensky’s proposed peace plan. The summit in Switzerland aims to secure broader support for the proposal within the international community.

The final list of participants will be made public only on the eve of the meeting; however, currently, 80 countries are expected to participate with approximately half expected to be represented at the presidential and prime ministerial level.

“Given the gravity of the situation in Ukraine, nations that have not yet committed to attend the Summit should attend and demonstrate support for ending Russia’s ongoing war of aggression in Ukraine,” said Vyacheslav Likhachev. “Achieving a sustainable and just peace in Ukraine requires global attention and a long-term commitment. However, peace in Ukraine cannot be achieved at the cost of impunity for Russia’s mass atrocities in Ukraine. Accountability is necessary not only to ensure justice for victims and survivors of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Ukraine itself but also to ensure global security.”

On March 17, 2023, the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant against Russian President Vladimir Putin and his children’s rights commissioner for committing war crimes related to the deportation and transfer of Ukraine’s children, marking a positive step towards ensuring international accountability. Although Saudi Arabia was among the nations that helped facilitate the return of prisoners and deportees—including children—to Ukraine, Riyadh has refused to participate in Summit.

Russian aggression against Ukraine has been characterized by well-documented war crimes and crimes against humanity. The Russian Armed Forces has indiscriminately bombarded civilian infrastructure and civilian-populated areas, resulting in the death of an untold number of civilians. In the territory controlled by the Ukrainian government, Russian missiles and drones have repeatedly targeted critical civilian infrastructure. For example, on June 6, 2023, Russian forces destroyed the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant. In Ukraine’s occupied territories, Russian soldiers have arbitrarily detained, tortured, committed gender-based violence, and extrajudicially killed civilians. In the small Kyiv suburb of Bucha alone, Russian soldiers killed more than 630 residents.

Fortify Rights calls on the international community to fully support the global initiative to create a special tribunal for the crime of Russian aggression against Ukraine. Currently, 44 U.N. member states support this idea. We urge governments of countries that have not yet joined the initiative to support it for human rights, justice, and stability worldwide.

The only possible just conclusion to the current Russian war of aggression against Ukraine is the establishment of lasting peace and the fulfillment of justice,” said  Vyacheslav Likhachev. “This requires both the use of all existing mechanisms, primarily the ICC, and the development of new ones. Unless impunity of top Russian officials is overcome and the crime of aggression is punished, justice will not be restored and threats to world stability will increase.”

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