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At the Ljubljana - Hague Convention signing ceremony, hosted at the Peace Palace. Netherlands, 2024. ©GSF

Three ways the Ljubljana - Hague Convention is advancing reparation for survivors

Project Update Netherlands 15 February 2024

Date and time

01:00 01:00


We are encouraged by the over 30 States that have already become signatories.[1] This is an incredible step forward for survivors of the most heinous crimes under international law. We encourage all States tostand against impunity, stand with survivors, and ratify the LHC swiftly without reservation. 

Also known as the MLA Treaty (Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty), this new international legal instrument acknowledges that for justice to prevail against the most serious crimes, including conflict-related sexual violence, States must cooperate with one another. In our increasingly interconnected world, State cooperation is necessary to reduce safe havens for perpetrators, access witnesses and evidence, and protect victims. The LHC provides the legal architecture to do just that. 

The Global Survivors Fund (GSF), along with other civil society organisations working on remedy and reparation, contributed to crafting the language on the articles related to the recovery of assets of perpetrators. All States who become signatories at this convention and go home to ratify this landmark treaty will be advancing the cause of reparation in three major ways.

1. The LHC enhances justice for survivors of the most heinous crimes under international law. 

Survivors have a well-established right to obtain adequate, prompt, and effective reparation for the harms perpetrated against them. But just because the right is well-established doesn’t mean it’s respected. As we see in our work, survivors of conflict-related sexual violence rarely ever access their right to reparation.

Perpetrators of the most serious international crimes often benefit from war and accumulate significant wealth which they enjoy in “safe heavens” around the world. A criminal proceeding for a perpetrator could involve many countries. It is a very plausible scenario that crimes are committed in one country, the perpetrator flees to another country, they are arrested in yet another, and their assets and victims are scattered across the world. 

Now, in Article 45 the LHC encourages States to work together to recover assets, no longer considering the complexity of a perpetrator's international web of wealth a barrier to attempt bringing the perpetrator to justice. If the assets are legally secured, a State must comply with a request to confiscate assets held in their country for the enforcement of a reparation judgement. 

2. The LHC places the burden of paying for reparation on perpetrators.

If no mechanism is available to force perpetrators to pay for their crimes, the burden for financing reparation often falls to the State of the perpetrator (which is most likely already in a costly period of transitional justice) and other States who volunteer to contribute. 

While international cooperation is an important mechanism for funding reparation that we will continue to encourage, we should look to alleviate the burden of States to fund reparation. And there is no better way to alleviate that burden than using the assets of the perpetrator of the harms. The LHC, through Article 45, allows States to confiscate perpetrators assets for the purpose of enforcing a reparation judgement from another state.

3. The LHC builds on the ecosystem for reparation. 

The creation of an international legal instrument that encourages States to work together to recover the assets of perpetrators is major progress overall for the right to reparation. By providing mechanisms for enforcing reparation orders from criminal proceedings, the LHC is contributing to an ecosystem that enables the timely delivery of reparation. Impunity prevails when reparation isn’t delivered to survivors, and we look forward to seeing how the LHC enhances access to reparation as more States sign and ratify.

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