Forty countries have signed a registry of damages for the Russian invasion of Ukraine created by the Council of Europe (CoE) during the summit of heads of state and government held in Reykjavik, as reported by this body.
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The Council of Europe, which is made up of 46 members, has explained that 40 countries, including Spain, have given their support to this initiative, which is intended to be a first step towards demanding accountability for the war, while three others ( Andorra, Bulgaria and Switzerland) have shown their intention to do so.
The European Union (EU), which has provided a “substantial” contribution to the start-up costs, and the United States, Japan and Canada – which have observer country status – have also signed on to the register.
As they indicate, the initiative will serve as a record of evidence and information on claims about damages, losses or damages caused from February 24, 2022 to all affected natural and legal persons, as well as to the State of Ukraine. “The Heads of State and Government expressed their willingness to participate in international initiatives to further develop such a mechanism, which may include a claims commission and a compensation fund, stressing Russia’s obligation to pay for the damage caused by its war of assault”.
“First step” towards a compensatory mechanism
The Secretary General of the Council, Marija Pejcinovic Buric, has described in a statement as “historic” the creation of this initiative and pointed out that supporting victims to register their losses will be “vital” for any hypothetical compensation mechanism and is one of the the first legally binding decisions “to hold Russia accountable for its actions.”
Speaking at his entrance to the session on Wednesday, Buric has referred to the broad support as “success” and has been hopeful that countries that have not signed the registry, including Hungary, will join in the future. .
The Council of Europe has stressed that it is only the “first step” towards establishing an international compensation mechanism for victims of Russian aggression that “will ensure that Russia pays full reparation to Ukraine in accordance with international law, including through its assets placed abroad.
“The Council of Europe can and must play an important role in ensuring accountability. The registration is an important step towards accountability for crimes committed in Russia’s brutal war and a strong message of support for Ukraine,” said Katrín Jakobsdóttir, Prime Minister of Iceland, the country that holds the rotating presidency of the Council of Europe. .
The registry – which will be based in the Dutch city of The Hague, with a satellite office in Ukraine – has been established for an initial period of three years and will serve to keep evidence of “damages, losses and damages caused by Russian aggression against Ukraine.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal has been “grateful” for the creation of the registry and the “high level” of support, and has invited countries around the world to join that initiative.
A dozen leaders had given their express support for the initiative this Tuesday at the inaugural session of the summit, including the President of France, Emmanuel Macron; German Chancellor Olaf Scholz; the Italian prime minister, Giorgia Meloni; and his British counterpart, Rishi Sunak.
The Reykjavik summit, the fourth in the 73-year history of the Council of Europe and the first since Warsaw in 2005, was convened at the end of last year based on a previous report prepared by a high-level think tank with Recommendations to meet the challenges of the war in Ukraine.
Since its inception in February 2022, the Council of Europe has condemned the Russian intervention in Ukraine, which it defines as “an unjustified and unprovoked aggression”, which led to Russia’s exclusion from the organization a month later.
At the meeting, the member states also adopted a declaration on the situation of children in Ukraine, “in which they call on the Ukrainian authorities for support in ensuring the immediate return of children illegally transferred and deported by Russian forces.” “All perpetrators of these crimes committed against children must be brought to justice. Assistance should also be provided to member states temporarily hosting Ukrainian children,” reads a Council of Europe statement.
Strengthen the Council of Europe
The summit – in which Spain has been represented by its Minister of Foreign Affairs, José Manuel Albares – concluded this Wednesday with a plenary session that began at 9:00 GMT.
As the text explains, the leaders have agreed to strengthen the Council of Europe and its work in the field of human rights, democracy and the rule of law “through the adoption of a declaration on democratic principles, the renewal of the commitment to the European Convention on Human Rights and the development of tools to face the new challenges in the field of technology and the environment”.
Specifically, they have adopted the “Reykjavik Principles for Democracy”, a series of principles “that democratic States must respect, such as freedom of expression, assembly and association, independent institutions, impartial and effective judiciaries, fight against corruption and democratic participation of civil society and youth”.