Skip to content

Ukraine

In 2014, Russia began its invasion of Ukraine in the now occupied region of Crimea, whilst supporting the self-proclaimed “Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics” armed groups in their calls for independence. Since then, conflict-related sexual violence has been perpetrated, along with other serious violations, by all actors. Survivors have reported suffering conflict-related sexual violence in detention centres, at checkpoints, and as armed forces move into their communities. 

In 2022, Russia launched a full-scale invasion, characterised by indiscriminatory attacks against civilians, including the frequent use of conflict related sexual violence. While the war continues, so does its perpetration. No official number of victims is available, with Ukraine’s Office of the Prosecutor General recording 270 cases[1] of what some groups estimate could be thousands. 

In May 2022, the Global Survivors Fund (GSF) published a study on the perspectives of survivors of conflict-related sexual violence about reparations and the availability of different remedies and forms of reparation. The study concluded that there is an urgent need to implement interim reparations for survivors, particularly providing medical and psychosocial support and livelihood support. Urgent interim reparation would allow the government to respond to survivors’ most urgent harms, with the expectation that a comprehensive administrative reparation programme will be implemented in the future.  

Since 2023, a GSF team, through our Guide pillar, has been working with the Ukrainian government and other partners to deliver on the recommendation of urgent interim reparation.

Partners

Office of the Deputy Prime Minister of European and Euro-Atlantic Integration  

Ukraine Government Commissioner on Gender Equality Policy 

The Dr. Denis Mukwege Foundation

International Organization for Migration (IOM)

REDRESS

Jurfem

“I hope that setting up this reparation programme will help survivors to come forward.” 

— Iryna Dovgan, survivor activist and GSF board member

Working with survivors, civil society, and the government on legislation 

In May 2023, we gathered survivor activists, members from civil society organisations, and government officials in Geneva for a study week to invigorate the conversation on reparation. During the study week, we heard lessons learned from other contexts on administrative reparation programmes and began discussing all together draft legislation for urgent interim reparation. 

Recently, two draft laws relevant to conflict-related sexual violence have made it to the Ukrainian parliament, one on the creation of a victims registry and one on the status of survivors and urgent interim reparation. As technical advisors, we are working towards these laws becoming compatible survivor-centred policies.

A first in the world 

While these laws make their way through parliament, we have begun a pilot project for urgent interim reparation with Ukrainian authorities, survivors' groups, Ukrainian civil society working with survivors, the Mukwege Foundation, and the International Organization for Migration. This pilot project is an exciting step in the history of reparation- being the first of its kind. Never before has a government taken action to provide survivors of conflict-related sexual violence urgent interim reparation to address survivors’ most urgent harms whilst conflict is still ongoing. 

The irreparable harm that comes from waiting for overdue reparation is not inevitable. That is why this pilot project aims to identify survivors from harms committed by all perpetrators and provide them with the financial compensation necessary to halt the exacerbation of their suffering. This is done while assisting them to access support services, particularly psychosocial and medical services through a referral pathway. The pilot project is not the fulfilment of the right to reparation, but is helping define a survivor centred approach to identify survivors that could serve in designing and implementing further reparation policies. By laying the foundation for the establishment of survivor-centred reparation, we are making an important stride towards comprehensive reparation in the future. 

Exploring avenues for affordability 

The discussion on Ukraine’s reconstruction is well underway, with a Register of Damage from the Council of Europe and multiple reports from the World Bank[2]. However, reparation for survivors of conflict-related sexual violence and for other victims of serious violations remains removed from the discussion despite it being a fundamental aspect of the recovery of communities post-conflict. Comprehensive reparation is possible and affordable if all avenues are explored, including the repurposing of assets. 

Many have examined the possibility of sanctioned assets being used to fund Ukraine’s reconstruction.[3] Our Advocacy team is working to ensure that survivors of conflict-related sexual violence are not only remembered, but centred, in proposals for repurposing assets. Together with our partner REDRESS, we are closely working on an advocacy portfolio that targets specific assets, like the £2.5 billion frozen by the United Kingdom from the sale of Chelsea Football club by Roman Abramovich. The prospect of reparation becomes much more real when the hurdle of affordability is crossed, and these assets provide the right creative avenues to cross it. 

Together with REDRESS, we prepared a briefing to explore the avenues for reparation in Ukraine.

Read now

Scroll to top