On Friday, March 3, at the opening session of the “United for Justice” conference, the President Mr. von der Leyen addressed a video message after the keynote speech of the President of Ukraine Mr. Volodymyr Zelensky and the speech of the President of Latvia Mr. Egils Levics. The European Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Didier Reyders, who attended the conference in person, also delivered a speech in which he referred to the concrete steps the Commission has taken and the support it has provided so far, on the one hand to ensure the accountability of those responsible for international war crimes and, on the other hand, for the reconstruction efforts of Ukraine that will be required.

On the sidelines of the conference, an amended version of the existing agreement was signed between the members of the joint investigation team to enable establishment of a new International Center for the Prosecution of the Crime of Aggression against Ukraine (ICPA). The ICPA will preserve the evidence and analyze it so that the crimes can be prosecuted in future trials, either nationally or internationally. It will bring together prosecutors to prepare future prosecutions for crimes under the attack on Ukraine, while the evidence of those crimes will be centrally stored in a secure location. In addition, the US formally agreed to strengthen cooperation between the US and the joint investigation team.

The ICPA represents a crucial next step following the extension of Eurojust’s mandate and Eurojust’s subsequent creation of a new international crime database, and follows on from the support expressed by EU leaders at the February 2023 European Council.

The conference was also an opportunity to establish a new dialogue group to strengthen international coordination of initiatives to ensure accountability. The European Commission will co-chair the six-monthly plenary meetings to take stock of the dialogue group’s progress and co-chair, together with the European External Action Service, the work to coordinate and strengthen assistance to the Prosecutor’s Office of Ukraine.

Athena Papakosta