REDRESS and GSF examine avenues for reparation for victims of the conflict in Ukraine
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London / Geneva - A new briefing published by REDRESS and the Global Survivors Fund (GSF) examines the complex reparation landscape for victims in Ukraine, including victims of conflict-related sexual violence, and makes recommendations to deliver comprehensive and holistic reparations to victims.
Ukraine as a State, and victims of gross violations of human rights and serious violations of international humanitarian law, have a right to reparation under international law, to redress the harm they have suffered.
The available reparation initiatives currently in progress for individual victims in Ukraine include judicial mechanisms, including compensation in certain civil cases, and administrative mechanisms which provide compensation to those who have suffered property damage, and reparative measures to those who have suffered human rights violations while in detention. These are currently considered as “assistance” rather than reparations. Prior to the full-scale invasion, reparation had formed part of transitional justice initiatives in Ukraine. However, these initiatives have yet to be translated into a government policy or regulatory framework.
Ukraine has also developed initiatives to address the needs of survivors of sexual and gender-based violence, which has been committed on a larger scale in Ukraine since 2014. One of these initiatives, with the technical support of GSF, aims to develop an Urgent Interim Reparation Programme, set-up a registry of victims, and establish a fund and work on innovative forms of financing reparations, including the repurposing of perpetrators’ assets.
On an international level, the Register of Damage Caused by the Aggression of the Russian Federation Against Ukraine, based in The Hague, will pave the way for a future international compensation mechanism. The International Criminal Court’s Trust Fund for Victims can also implement reparations and support rehabilitation for victims through its Reparations and Assistance mandates respectively, while the European Court of Human Rights still remains a route for victims with respect to violations which have occurred prior to 16 September 2022.
Despite these options, the briefing highlights that the complexity of the reparations landscape results in a lack of clarity as to what reparation means for Ukraine and for victims of the conflict. It recommends that national and international actors develop a holistic understanding of the scope of reparation in the short and long-term for victims, as well as how reparation can be provided alongside efforts towards economic recovery or as part of transitional justice.
The briefing further recommends improving coordination between national and international actors and ensuring that initiatives are survivor-centric, so victims lead from the point of design to implementation. The international community must also play a role in financing reparation for victims of the conflict in Ukraine, including through confiscating perpetrators’ assets and other innovative solutions to fund reparations.
The briefing reflects the discussions from a workshop held in September by REDRESS, GSF and the World for Ukraine Foundation in the context of the World for Ukraine Summit in Rzeszów, Poland. The summit brought together Ukrainian and international lawyers, academics, civil society organisations and policy makers working on the delivery and financing of reparation for survivors of the conflict in Ukraine.