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European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR)
News article6 March 2023Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations

Accountability for Russian international war crimes in Ukraine: President von der Leyen and Commissioner Reynders at ‘United for Justice' Conference

Justice for Ukraine

On Friday, 3 March, President von der Leyen addressed participants via video message during the opening session of the United for Justice Conference, following a keynote speech by President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, and a speech by President of Latvia, Egils Levits. European Commissioner for Justice, Didier Reynders, who attended the conference in person, also delivered a speech setting out the concrete steps the Commission has taken and support it has provided so far to ensure accountability for international war crimes and the eventual reconstruction efforts in Ukraine.

In the margins of the conference, an amended version of the existing Joint Investigation Team (JIT) agreement was signed between the JIT members to allow the for the establishment of a new International Centre for the Prosecution of the Crime of Aggression (ICPA) against Ukraine. It will preserve evidence and prepare the analysis of the evidence for the prosecution for future trials, whether national or international. The ICPA will bring prosecutors together to prepare future cases for prosecution involving crimes of aggression, with the evidence of these types of crime to be stored centrally in a secure location. The US has also formally agreed to step up cooperation between the US and the Joint Investigation Team.

Following the support expressed by EU leaders at the 2023 February European Council, this is a crucial next step after the extension of Eurojust's mandate and the subsequent setting up of a new Core International Crimes Evidence Database by Eurojust.

The conference was also an occasion to launch a new Dialogue Group to enhance international coordination of initiatives to ensure accountability. The European Commission will be co-chairing bi-annual plenary meetings to take stock of the Dialogue Group's progress and will co-chair the work on coordinating and strengthening the assistance to the Office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine together with the European External Action Service.

President von der Leyen's statement and video message are available online.