The Council of Europe, the main human rights agency on the continent, will begin a summit in Iceland on Tuesday, with heads of state discussing what steps they can take to support Ukraine in its defense against Russian aggression.
The toll of the war in Ukraine, and how the rest of Europe can best help, is expected to be a major focus of the meeting – only the fourth since the council was established in 1949, after World War II. Leaders from many of the council’s 46 member states are expected in person, but President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, who has been on a whirlwind tour of Europe in recent days, attended virtually.
“Ukraine should be at the center” of the summit, the council’s secretary-general, Marija Pejcinovic Buric, said in a statement. She added that “responsibility for the death and destruction caused by Russian aggression is vital,” suggesting that the organization could take a leading role in establishing a record to investigate evidence and claims of damage, loss or injury. Ukraine as a result of the Russian invasion. .
Russia joined the council in 1996, in the years following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, but was suspended last year after attacking Ukraine. The invasion “goes against everything we stand for and is a violation of our statute and of the European Convention on Human Rights,” Ms Buric told The Times in March 2022.
Britain’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who will be attending the two-day event, will “use these meetings to push for sustained international support for Ukraine, both in terms of military aid and long-term security guarantees,” his office said in a statement. .
The council, which is separate from the European Union, was established to uphold democracy, human rights and the rule of law on the continent. It has a parliamentary assembly and governs the European Court of Human Rights, which decides on cases brought from a member state. The previous peaks were in 1993, 1997 and 2005.
In addition to Ukraine, the agenda is expected to address a number of hot-button issues, including climate change and artificial intelligence. Iceland’s Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir said in a statement that she would “use this platform to advocate for the rights of women and girls, the environment and children and youth.”
The meeting comes days before the Group of 7 summit in Japan’s Hiroshima, which begins Friday.
Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, said in a statement that a united response to the invasion of Ukraine would be an underlying theme of the summits and called for “the establishment of a special tribunal to prosecute Russian crime of aggression for the right.”