• Press Release

Human Rights Must Be at Core of International Meetings on Peace and Reconstruction in Ukraine

June 10, 2024

(SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP via Getty Images)

The international community must ensure that the focus of two major conferences on peace and reconstruction in Ukraine is firmly fixed on human rights, justice for victims of violations and the voice of civil society groups, Amnesty International said today.

Governments from all continents are expected to attend the Ukraine Recovery Conference, hosted by Germany, on June 11-12, and the Peace Summit on June 15-16 in Switzerland.

“Through joint efforts, the world is beginning to prepare a roadmap to justice, lasting peace and the rebuilding of Ukraine. It is vital to place human rights at the heart of this endeavor,” said Veronika Velch, Executive Director of Amnesty International Ukraine.

“People in Ukraine and other countries who have suffered human rights and international humanitarian law violations caused by Russia’s decade-long occupation and aggression must be heard, and their rights to truth, justice and reparations must be central to all discussions and actions taken. Without guaranteeing this, a lasting and just peace cannot be achieved, and further violations may continue to occur.”

Amnesty International is calling for the effective and meaningful participation of victims, at-risk groups, and expert civil society organizations in all international discussions about Ukraine’s future.

‘’The human rights cost of the war of aggression against Ukraine has been immense. There are many human rights issues that need to be resolved, such as the forcible transfer of civilians including children to Russia, the arbitrary and unlawful detention of Ukrainian civilians, and accountability for war crimes. It is crucial that the voices of victims and civil society are heard,” Veronika Velch said.

Amnesty International believes the two meetings must urgently address:

  • Restoration of Ukraine’s energy infrastructure: Russia has launched extensive attacks on Ukraine’s critical civilian infrastructure, which has targeted and destroyed energy facilities, resulting in the civilian population being deprived of heat, electricity, water, and housing. Deliberately attacking civilian infrastructure, such as power stations and electricity supplies, and causing overwhelming harm to civilians is a violation of international humanitarian law. Measures to address harm to damaged energy infrastructure, including its restoration requires significant investment and should start as soon as possible. Ukrainian charities and human rights groups as well as environmentalists should be a part of efforts to ensure that the rebuilding of Ukrainian infrastructure serves the human rights of everybody in the country.
  • Ensuring global food safety: Ukraine’s contribution to the world food market in 2021 was equivalent to feeding 400 million people. The consequences of the war have created serious threats to global food security, which primarily affect some of world’s poorest communities in the Middle East and North Africa and put them at risk of food insecurity. It is vital that Ukraine’s grain exports can reach these communities.
  • Return of children and all civilians forcibly displaced or deported to Russia: Ukrainian civil society organizations and international organizations have painstakingly collected vital information about these children, their whereabouts and their relatives in Ukraine. It is imperative that these children and civilians are returned to Ukraine.
  • Immediate release of all Ukrainian civilian detainees and prisoners who have been arbitrarily or unlawfully detained: The Russian authorities must immediately release all Ukrainian civilian detainees, who have been subjected to arbitrary detention, as well as all Russian detainees and prisoners who have been arbitrarily detained for opposing the war. All charges against them must also be dropped.
  • Upholding the rights of prisoners of war (POWs) guaranteed by international humanitarian and human rights law, repatriation of prisoners of war, and investigation of all abuses against them. States and relevant NGOs must provide all prisoners of war, including those who are sick and wounded, with rehabilitation following their repatriation. Effective investigations must be carried out into crimes against and violations of POWs’ rights under international law which may have been committed against them during their detention and those responsible brought to justice.  
  • Ensuring justice and accountability for all war crimes, crimes against humanity and other crimes under international law and gross human rights violations: There can be no justice without full accountability for all crimes under international law and other gross human rights violations committed since Russia’s military intervention in 2014. This includes, for example, the suppression of the non-Russian population and forced demographic change in Crimea. Ukraine’s civil society organizations, including those currently working – at great risk  in occupied areas, have documented, directly witnessed and oftentimes suffered from these violations.
  • Humanitarian de-mining and removal of unexploded ordnance: This will be a herculean task requiring the coordinated work of governments, independent organizations and volunteers.

“Ensuring justice demands substantial political will and resources at both the national and international levels. A concerted and determined effort by the international community is certainly resource intensive. However, human rights, including the rights to truth, justice and reparations must be the bedrock for any peace in Ukraine and this must be the driving force of the international community,” said Veronika Velch.


In February 2014, Russia sent its troops to occupy Ukraine’s Crimea. Its armed forces also entered eastern Ukraine in the same year.  On February 24, 2022, Vladimir Putin announced a “special military operation” to “demilitarize and denazify” Ukraine, and Russia launched a full-scale invasion.

The negative effects of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine are vast and long-lasting. The list of crimes under international law suffered by people in Ukraine includes but is not limited to war crimes directed against individuals (extrajudicial executions, torture, sexual violence) and communities (deliberate destruction of civilian infrastructure – energy, water, hospitals, residential areas); numerous killings of civilians in Bucha, Izium, and other cities; and forced transfers and deportations of civilians, including deportations of children outside of Ukraine.

Russian forces have violated multiple norms of the Geneva Conventions — from the obligation to protect the civilian population to the observance of the rights of prisoners, forced mobilization of Ukrainian citizens to participate in military operations against their state, destruction of cultural heritage, and the targeting of grain export infrastructure.

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