A Human Rights–Centered Approach to Reconstruction in Ukraine

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Any discussion of human rights in Ukraine must begin by acknowledging the massive and ongoing atrocities, human rights abuses, and international humanitarian law violations the Russian regime has committed in conjunction with its unjustified full-scale invasion of Ukraine. At present, these crimes rightly deserve the full attention of the Ukrainian government, human rights advocates, and the international community. That said, efforts to reconstruct Ukraine have already begun and will become even more urgent when the war ends. History has shown that reconstruction—if done poorly—can reinforce social divisions, exacerbate popular discontent, and sow the seeds of future conflict. Thus, respect for human rights and the principles of democratic governance must be at the center of all reconstruction planning and implementation for Ukraine. This report reviews the extent to which reconstruction plans for Ukraine and efforts to date have incorporated human rights and governance concerns, and it aims to identify key gaps and issues that merit additional attention going forward.

This report was made possible through the generous support of the Open Society Foundations.

Scott Busby
Senior Associate (Non-resident), Human Rights Initiative
Lauren Burke
Senior Program Manager, Human Rights Initiative