Special Hearing of the United States Helsinki Commission at Courtroom 600


The United States Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (Helsinki Commission) in cooperation with the Nuremberg Academy conducted a unique and special field hearing at the historic Courtroom 600 on 20 February 2024. The hearing entitled “Holding Russia Accountable for its War Crimes against Ukraine: Lessons from Nuremberg” engaged with leading experts on the best international and domestic avenues and approaches to ensure accountability for the Russian aggression against Ukraine and the international crimes that have been committed in this context.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in his video message and the Chairman of Commission, Congressman Joe Wilson, emphasised the parallels between the international crimes committed during the Second World War by the Nazi regime and those being endured by the Ukrainian people in Russia’s war of aggression. President Zelenskyy spoke of the need to “revisit the Nuremberg principles” and highlighted the powerful symbolism of the hearing being conducted at the site of the Nuremberg trial. He emphasised that a “a real, honest and reliable end to the war cannot happen without fully restoring justice for all those whose rights and lives have been shattered by the war.”

The hearing involved a bipartisan and bicameral representation of the United States Congress. The expert panellist included senior Ukrainian and US government officials as well as members of civil society and academia.

Director Professor Safferling welcomed the delegation and invoked the resonance of the Nuremberg Principle I as well as the unbroken validity of the lessons from the Nuremberg trials. Further welcoming remarks were also delivered by Marcus König the Lord Mayor of the City of Nuremberg and Tobias Winkler, a member of the German Parliament.  Dr Angelina Schlunk, State Secretary to the German Federal Minister for Justice and Georg Eisenreich, Minister of Justice of the Free State of Bavaria also addressed the event though special video messages.

The hearings were divided into two sessions. The first session focussed on the documentation and preservation of evidence including using open-source methods. The second session assessed the gaps in the international institutional architecture in relation to furthering accountability for the crime of aggression including on the need and viability of establishing a Special Tribunal for the Crime of Aggression. Andriy Kostin, the Prosecutor General of Ukraine discussed the multifaceted nature of the investigations being conducted within Ukraine and the crucial cooperation between his office and various domestic and international authorities including with the International Criminal Court. He stressed that justice must extend to the “the masterminds who set in motion the machinery of evil.”

The following members of the Helsinki Commission and experts participated in the hearing:

Congressman Joe Wilson, Chairman of the United States Helsinki Commission; Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (via precorded video), Senator Thom Tillis, Congressman Lloyd Doggett, Congresswomen Victoria Spartz and Congressman Andy Harris;

Andriy Kostin, Prosecutor General of Ukraine; Prof. Veronika Bílková, OSCE Moscow Mechanism Rapporteur; Roman Avramenko, Director of Truth Hounds, Roksolana Burianenko, Programme Manager, Ukrainian Archive, Mnemonic; Dr Gabija Grigaite-Daugirde, Deputy Minister of Justice of Lithuania, Professor Dr Christoph Safferling, Director of the Nuremberg Academy and Ambassador Beth van Schaak, United States Ambassador-at-large for Global Criminal Justice. (km)


Remote address by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy
Director Professor Dr Christoph Safferling welcoming the United States Helsinki Commission
Welcoming remarks by the Lord Mayor of Nuremberg
Welcoming remarks by Tobias Winkler, Member of the Parliament of Germany
Video-recorded welcoming by State Secretary to the German Federal Minister for Justice, Dr Angelika Schlunck
Professor Veronika Bílková, Tobias Winkler, Andriy Kostin, Beth Van Schaack, Marcus König, Professor Dr. Christoph Safferling, Dr. Gabija Grigaite-Daugirde, Roman Avramenko, Roksolana Burianenko
Session 1, Panel 1: Congressman and Chairman of the United States Helsinki Commission Joe Wilson and Senator Thom Tillis (left to right)
Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee's remote address
Congressman Andy Harris and Congressman Lloyd Doggett (left to right)
Senator Thom Tillis and Congresswoman Victoria Spartz (left to right)
Roksolana Burianenko (Programme Manager, Ukrainian Archive, Mnemonic), Andriy Kostin (Prosecutor General of Ukraine) and Professor Veronika Bílková (Charles University of Prague and OSCE Moscow Mechanism Rapporteur) (from left to right)
Professor Veronika Bílková and Roman Avramenko ( Executive Director, Truth Hounds) (left to right)
Special United States Helsinki Commission Hearing 2024 in Courtroom 600
Georg Eisenreich, Minister of the Free State of Bavaria (video-recorded remarks)
Dr Gabija Grigaite-Daugirde (Vice-Minister of Justice, Republic of Lithuania), Andriy Kostin (Prosecutor General of Ukraine) and Director Professor Dr Christoph Safferling (from left to right)
Session 2, Panel 2: Ambassador Beth van Schaack (Ambassador-at-large for Global Criminal Justice, United States of America)
Director Professor Dr Christoph Safferling interveiwed by the Bavarian Broadcasting Corporation, BR
Special United States Helsinki Commission Hearing 2024 in Courtroom 600