From the earliest days of Vladimir Putin’s February 2022 full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Russian strikes have hit civilians and civilian infrastructure, damaging apartment blocks, schools, hospitals, the electric grid and water systems. These callous attacks have led to countless civilian casualties and considerable economic damage to Ukraine.
On November 14, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution calling for Russia to be held to account for its violations of international law and to bear the legal consequences for its internationally wrongful acts in Ukraine. The resolution recognized the need for an international mechanism for reparation from Russia for damage, death, and injury, and recommended the creation of a register of damages to document evidence and claims.
“Russia’s devastating strikes have been hitting cities and towns across Ukraine, … causing significant major destruction to critical energy infrastructure as winter fast approaches,” said Deputy U.S. Representative to the UN Richard Mills in his explanation of why the United States voted in favor of the non-binding resolution.
“The mounting costs, including the appalling human toll, of Russia’s unprovoked and unlawful invasion of its neighbor and fellow UN Member State are tremendous. To date, there have been thousands killed, millions more displaced, and an untold number disappeared. Reports are multiplying of atrocities and other abuses, including of forced deportation, the deliberate separation and kidnapping of children from their families and forced adoptions in Russia, torture, and the bombing of maternity hospitals.”
“This recommendation to create a damages register is an important initial step toward the eventual establishment of a claims adjudication mechanism to assess the full scope of the huge toll this needless war is taking on Ukraine and its people,” said Ambassador Mills.
“Ukraine will one day rebuild; that is not at question here. The point is the imperative – the imperative for us, the international community – to hold the perpetrator to account for this needless devastation. Accountability is an important component of any eventual settlement of this war. The passage of this resolution also serves as a deterrent against future breaches of international peace and security as well as helping reach reconciliation.”
“The international community must hold Russia to account for its violations of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and for the resulting damages and abuses committed against the people of Ukraine,” said Ambassador Mills. “This resolution represents a critical step toward accountability.”