KYIV — While Russia’s invasion of Ukraine added greater urgency to their work, the Center for Civil Liberties, which was awarded the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday, has been monitoring and documenting rights violations and potential war crimes in Ukraine for years.
One of Ukraine’s leading human rights organizations, the Center for Civil Liberties was founded in 2007 with the goal of pressuring authorities to make Ukraine a full-fledged democracy and ensure it was governed by rule of law.
When a conflict with Russian-backed forces erupted in eastern Ukraine in 2014, the group also began documenting human rights abuses and the disappearances of Kremlin critics, journalists and activists.
And since Russia’s full-scale invasion of the country this year, it has been working alongside national and international partners to methodically document potential Russian crimes against Ukrainian civilians in an effort to bring accountability.
“It’s a big honor for us to receive this prize and also for our partners,” Oleksandra Romantsova, the executive director of the organization, said in an interview by phone. “It’s very important for the establishment of human rights and for the affirmation of human dignity.”
Under the group’s Euromaidan SOS project, which was relaunched earlier this year, several hundred local volunteers have been gathering civilian testimonies of rights violations.
The project was first established to provide legal assistance to protesters who took part in the 2013 and 2014 protests in Kyiv’s Maidan Square, and to monitor abuses carried out by the security forces of the country’s former president, Viktor Yanukovych.
The organization also actively advocated for Ukraine to become affiliated with the International Criminal Court. While it is still not a full member, Ukraine has since 2013 accepted the court’s jurisdiction over crimes committed on its territory.
The Center for Civil Liberties has also been doing crucial work mapping accounts of the forced disappearances in Ukraine of human rights defenders, journalists, activists and local government representatives since the 2014 war began. That work has carried over into the current conflict, where there have been hundreds of accounts of disappearances in territories occupied by Russian forces.
Ms. Romantsova said on Friday that the award made it clear just how crucial their work had become over the years.
“By our own example, we will show this and continue to work on it,” she said.