Council of Europe leaders agree to set up Register of damage for Ukraine

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addresses, via videolink, the opening ceremony of the Council of Europe summit in Reykjavik, Iceland, May 16, 2023.
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addresses, via videolink, the opening ceremony of the Council of Europe summit in Reykjavik, Iceland, May 16, 2023. Copyright Alastair Grant/Copyright 2023 The AP.
By Isabel Marques da Silva
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The Register, which will aim to record evidence and claims information on damage, loss or injury caused to individuals, entities and the Ukrainian state, is intended as a first component of a future compensation mechanism.

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The leaders of the Council of Europe’s 46 member states decided on Wednesday to establish a Register of damage caused by Russia’s aggression in Ukraine.

The decision, taken during a summit in the Icelandic capital, Reykjavík following a two-day exceptional summit, constitutes a first step towards an international compensation mechanism.

There was a consensus among the 46 countries that constitute the human rights organisation that Moscow should compensate victims in Ukraine and help rebuild the nation once the conflict is over.

“This Reykjavik summit shows clearly that (Russian President Vladimir) Putin has failed with his calculations - he wanted to divide Europe and has achieved the opposite. We stand closer together in Europe than ever before. This is our joint message from Reykjavik," German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said.

The register is to be based in the Dutch city of The Hague and may come to include a claims commission and compensation fund and will serve as a record evidence and claims information on damage, loss or injury caused to individuals, and the Ukrainian state since the beginning of the Russian invasion on 24 February 2022.

The question of how the damages to Ukraine will be paid and how those responsible can be brought to justice was also addressed at the summit with Ukrainian  Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal making some suggestions.

"Today's decision to establish this register is without doubt historic. After that, we should prepare the necessary legal framework for the confiscation of Russian assets and establish a compensation fund. So a comprehensive approach includes creation of international tribunal," he added.

The Council of Europe’s secretary general, Marija Pejčinović Burić, said that the body intends to support the international effort to establish a judicial organ to prosecute the crime of aggression — the literal act of invading another country.

The United States, Japan and Canada have also joined the efforts and participate in the Council of Europe as observer states.

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