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Statements Independent investigation

Statement by Mr Erik Møse, Chair of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine, to United Nations Security Council Arria Formula Meeting - 27 April 2022

29 April 2022

27 April 2022
Delivered by: Mr Erik Møse, Chair of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine

Chair, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

On behalf of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine, I would like to thank the organisers – the permanent mission to the UN of the Republic of Albania and the permanent mission of France – for having invited the Commission to this Arria-formula meeting. This is the first time the Commission appears in a public context. The three commissioners are all present; Ms Jasminka Dzumhur and I are participating remotely, and Mr Pablo de Greiff is physically present at your meeting in New York.

Limited time has passed since the President of the Human Rights Council appointed the members of the Commission on 30 March 2022. Recruitment of staff is on-going, and the office of the secretariat in Vienna is under establishment. Given this very early stage of the Commission’s existence, the three members have considered carefully whether we should participate today. We have decided to do so, demonstrating in a visible way the Commission’s availability to communicate with all stakeholders from the beginning. We consider it important to follow discussions of relevance to the Commission’s work.

Today’s topic – accountability for atrocities – is an important element of the Commission’s mandate. Ensuring accountability is of course only possible with reliable and sufficient evidence. Resolution 49/1 contains several references to the significance of this: The Commission shall investigate all alleged violations and abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law, and related crimes; establish the facts of any such violations and abuses; collect, consolidate and analyse such evidence, and systematically record and preserve all information, documentation and evidence.

In performing this huge task, the Commission will build on the work of the UN’s Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine and work in close coordination with that mission and with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, as mandated for in the resolution. The Commission will discuss the implementation of these provisions with the High Commissioner’s office, including during our physical meeting in Geneva in a couple of weeks. We consider this element of our mandate to be important, particularly given the Monitoring Mission’s extensive experience in Ukraine.

It is a well-known fact that a large number of entities are investigating the situation in Ukraine, both international and national bodies. As mentioned in the organisers’ concept note for this Arria meeting, there is reason to believe that coordination can ensure the efficiency of investigations, and we intend to look into this issue.

Turning specifically to the on-going ICC investigations, I am very pleased to note the presence of the Prosecutor, Mr Khan, at this meeting. Our Commission will establish contact with the ICC in the near future.

More generally, the Commission will seek contact with the parties to the conflict, with victims, civil societies, member states and other stakeholders. The main purpose is to obtain information of relevance to its mandate. It will be necessary to build upon a broad range of sources, which will have to be assessed together. The Commission aims to visit Ukraine and other areas where information and evidence is available.

The Commission’s broad mandate includes all kinds of allegations, irrespective of whether they receive extensive press coverage or less attention. In conformity with its mandate, the Commission will seek to contribute to accountability. While not a strictly judicial instance, one of its tasks is to identify, where possible, individuals and entities responsible for violations or abuses of human rights or of international humanitarian law, or other related crimes.

When performing its task, the Commission is – as stated in its mandate – independent. It has no link to any particular country, party, or entity. The Commission will submit reports of its activities to the UN’s Human Rights Council and to the General Assembly, and its conclusions will be based on the independent assessment of the commissioners and their analysis of the information and evidence that comes out of their investigations.

The Commission is of course fully aware of the challenges in executing its mandate under the current circumstances, but also of its importance, especially when there are conflicting versions of the facts or even disinformation. In conformity with established principles, the Commission will assess the evidence carefully, giving particularly weight to primary evidence and seeking corroboration whenever needed. Over the years, the many Commissions of Inquiry established by the Human Rights Council have built up a considerable experience in this field.

As already mentioned the Commission finds itself at an early stage of its work. This is not the time for it to give long statements but I would like to thank the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms Bachelet, for having set up an excellent start-up team that has been of great assistance. Let me end by reiterating that the Commission is ready to communicate with anyone who may assist it in the completion of its mandate.

Thank you.