Civil society calls on Ukraine to join the ICC now

The Coalition for the ICC calls on Ukraine new leaders to join the ICC Rome Statute system and help to ensure justice for victims of grave international crimes.

In August 2019, then Deputy Head of President Zelenskyy’s Office, and current Prosecutor General, Ruslan Ryaboshapka, announced that one of the President’s priorities would be to ratify the International Criminal Court (ICC) Rome Statute signed by Ukraine 20 years ago.

Ukraine amended its Constitution in 2016 (amendment to article 124 recognising the jurisdiction of the ICC), paving the way for the country to join the Rome Statute, which provision entered into force on 30 June 2019.

“The key legal obstacles to the country’s ability to join the Rome Statute have been removed and there is no better time than now for the authorities in Ukraine to do the right thing and join the family of nations that are working to end impunity for perpetrators of grave crimes,” said Virginie Amato, Coalition for the ICC Regional Coordinator for Europe.

On 23 September 2019, the Coalition for the International Criminal Court (CICC), its member organisations in Ukraine and international members, sent a letter to H.E. Volodymyr Zelenskyy, President of Ukraine, calling for prompt ratification of the ICC Rome Statute and commitment to fight impunity domestically, including by aligning domestic legislation with the ICC Rome Statute and international law.

The letter is signed by the CICC and 20 member organizations including: Advocacy Advisory Panel (AAP), Ukraine; Amnesty International; Center for Civil Liberties (CCL), Ukraine; Civil Rights Defenders (CRD); Human Rights Center ZMINA, Ukraine; Human Rights Watch (HRW); International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH); International Partnership for Human Rights (IPHR); International Renaissance Foundation (IRF), Ukraine; Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group (KHPG), Ukraine; Norwegian Helsinki Committee (NHC); No Peace Without Justice (NPWJ); Open Society Justice Initiative (OSJI); Parliamentarians for Global Action (PGA); Regional Center for Human Rights (RCHR), Ukraine; Truth Hounds, Ukraine; Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union (UHHRU); Ukrainian Legal Advisory Group (ULAG); World Federalist Movement (WFM) – Canada; and Women’s Initiatives for Gender Justice (WIGJ).

Ukraine committed to secure Rome Statute ratification and implementation as part of the European Union-Ukraine Association Agreement (Article 8), a key provision which is fully in line with the European Union’s policy of strong support and commitment to international justice and the ICC.

“President Zelenskyy has an opportunity to lead Ukraine into finally becoming a member of the ICC and send a strong message to the people of Ukraine and the international community at large that Ukraine is committed to bringing perpetrators of international crimes to justice,” said Ms. Amato.

Civil society continues to demand justice and accountability and believe that ratifying the Rome Statute will be a crucial step towards international peace, security and justice.

Although Ukraine is not a party to the Rome Statute, the ICC Office of the Prosecutor has been conducting a Preliminary Examination on the situation in Ukraine since April 2014, focusing on alleged crimes committed on the territory of Ukraine from 21 November 2013 onwards. This follows Ukraine’s lodging of two formal declarations with the ICC under Article 12(3) of the Rome Statute in 2014 and 2015. Through these declarations, Ukraine accepted the exercise of the ICC’s jurisdiction in relation to alleged crimes committed in the territory of Ukraine.

Recent events on the significance for Ukraine to ratify the ICC Rome Statute in Kyiv:

The Head of the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine, Ms Matilda Bogner, recommends to the Parliament of Ukraine to "harmonize Ukrainian criminal law with international law and to ratify Rome Statute” at an event organised by CICC Member Zmina:

The Coalition for the ICC will continue to urge Ukraine new government and Parliament to fully align its national legislation with the ICC Rome Statute and international law, including by incorporating provisions to investigate and prosecute genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes effectively before its national courts.

The high demand for justice and accountability in Ukraine makes ratification of the Statute all the more crucial today. #RatifyRomeStatuteUA

Read more

CICC Press Release: Ukraine must join the ICC      

Joint Letter to the President of Ukraine

Nadia Volkova, Director of the Ukrainian Legal Advisory Group: Article on the need of Ukraine's ratification and the country's situation

[1] “Article 8: International Criminal Court. The Parties shall cooperate in promoting peace and international justice by ratifying and implementing the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) [of 1998] and its related instruments.”