Our Experts and Resources on Ukraine

31 October 2022

Discover our resources and what our experts and alumni say about the situation in Ukraine, with regular updates to include new events, articles, podcasts and comments.

Third Party Intervention in the ECtHR Case Ukraine v. Russia (X)

Along with 23 governments, the Geneva Academy – via its IHL-EP – requested to intervene as a third party in the proceedings before the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) concerning the case of Ukraine v. Russia (X) (application no. 11055/22).

This inter-State case concerns the Ukrainian Government’s allegations of mass and gross human rights violations committed by the Russian Federation in its military operations on the territory of Ukraine since 24 February 2022.

In this request, the Geneva Academy offered to provide an informed and balanced analysis of several, crucial issues raised by that case. These include the extra-territorial application of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), the attribution of conduct and its interaction with the questions of establishing jurisdiction and classifying armed conflicts, the relationship between the ECHR and the international legal prohibition on the threat or use of force, and the interplay between the ECHR and international humanitarian law (IHL).

This endeavour forms part of the Geneva Academy IHL Expert Pool: by participating in court proceedings such as this, and delivering rigorous and neutral advice on questions pertaining to the interplay between IHL and human rights law, this IHL Expert Pool works to enhance the legal protection afforded victims of armed conflict.

Ukrainian IHL Professor Hosted at the Geneva Academy

The Geneva Academy is hosting during a year Dr Nataliia Hendel, a Professor of international law at the International Humanitarian University in Odesa, Ukraine, and an expert in international humanitarian law (IHL).

Dr Hendel, who fled the conflict in Ukraine, joined the Geneva Academy as a Researcher back in September 2022 under the Programme Scholars at Risk, with funding from the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF).

Dr Hendel will pursue her research on the protection of the environment during armed conflicts – with a focus on Ukraine – during her time at the Geneva Academy.

‘I am very grateful to the Geneva Academy for hosting me during these difficult times and for welcoming the Ukrainian experience, understanding and practice in IHL’ says Dr Nataliia Hendel.

IHL Talk: Russia and Ukraine

This IHL Talk  addressed some of the legal issues stemming from the current armed conflict between Ukraine and Russia. Panelists notably discussed the humanitarian impact of unilateral sanctions and challenges raised by the use of force against Ukraine, with a particular focus on the justifications provided by Russia. They also analyzed the conflict from an international humanitarian law perspective, focusing on instances of clear violations and more controversial ones.

IHL TalK – The Wagner Group: Options for Justice

This IHL Talk aimed at clarifying the relevant frameworks of responsibility for the crimes committed by the Wagner troops. Panelists notably addressed the following questions:

  • What is the status of Wagner Group members, are they PMSCs, mercenaries, or de facto members of the Russian armed forces? What legal framework governs their status?
  • Could the conduct of Wagner Group members be attributable to Russia or could Russia nevertheless have certain positive obligations – under international humanitarian law and international human rights law – in relation to crimes carried out by Wagner troops?
  • What are the avenues for holding the members of the Wagner Group criminally responsible and could the question of command responsibility of the Wagner Group leaders and Russian officials arise?

Swissuniversities' Statement on Russia's Intervention in Ukraine

The Geneva Academy is a member, via our two parent institutions, of swissuniversities, the umbrella organisation of the Swiss universities.

On 27 February 2022, swissuniversities strongly condemned Russia's intervention in Ukraine as a violation of international law.

By Our Experts and Professors

Participation in Investigation Missions

OSCE mission to investigate violations of IHL and international human rights law in Ukraine

International Legal Working Group on Accountability for International Crimes Committed in Ukraine

Participation in Events and Conferences

Blog Posts and Articles

  • On War: blog post by Professor Andrew Clapham in which he discusses – based on his recent book War – whether there are any legal implications behind the designation ‘war’ in this conflict and beyond (5 March 2022).

Podcasts and Videos

  • The Rules of War: in this Matrix Law Podcast (Episode 30), Professor Andrew Clapham discusses the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, examines the facts through the prism of international law, and explores how international law can be applied and how it might help to calibrate the actions and reactions of the warring parties (15 March 2022).

In the Media

  • Ucraina: un mese di guerraProfessor Paola Gaeta discusses (in Italian from 25:18) the documentation of violations of IHL in Ukraine and prosecutions related to the commission of war crimes, crimes against humanity and the crime of aggression (24 March 2022).

Participation in Statements

By our Alumni

Participation in Events and Conferences

Online Discussion: The OSCE Moscow Mechanism report on violations of International Law committed following Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine: Mariana Katzarova, an alumna of our Executive Master in International Law in Armed Conflict and the Founder and Chair of RAW in WAR (Reach All Women in War) participated, in this oline discussion along with our two faculty members Professors Marco Sassòli and Andrew Clapham (16 May 2022).

Blog Posts and Articles

In the Media

RULAC Online Portal

We are constantly updating our Rule of Law in Armed Conflict (RULAC) online portal and its entries related to the crisis: the international armed conflict between Russia and Ukraine, and the non-international armed conflicts in Eastern Ukraine with the self-proclaimed ‘People’s Republics’ of Donetsk and Luhansk. RULAC also provides information about the military occupation of Crimea by Russia since July 2014.

These entries and RULAC also provide information on classification and applicable international law, including international humanitarian law, international human rights law and international criminal law.

The Digitalization of Armed Conflict

Cyber attacks form an integral part of the current armed conflict between Ukraine and Russia.

Our projects on the digitalization of conflict address some of the main issues of contention concerning the application of international law, including IHL and international human rights law, to military cyber operations with notably three papers: 

Guidelines on Investigating Violations of International Humanitarian Law

The Guidelines on Investigating Violations of International Humanitarian Law: Law, Policy and Good Practice – co-published with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) – provide key guidance to states aiming to conduct investigations of IHL violations, but also to other bodies and individuals seeking a more detailed understanding of investigations in armed conflict.

This document – the first of its kind – is notably available in Russian and Ukrainian.

Protecting Persons with Disabilities

Our research on disability and armed conflict highlighted the devastating impact conflict has on persons with disabilities and that many of the key IHL provisions that serve to minimize the impact of armed conflict – such as the proportionality assessment and advanced effective warnings – are not being applied in a disability inclusive manner, resulting in persons with disabilities being killed, seriously injured or left behind as families flee armed attacks.

Building on this research and its recommendations, our Military Briefing: Persons with Disabilities and Armed Conflict provides guidance to the armed forces on how to integrate a disability perspective into military manuals and the training of their militaries. This paper offers a number of concrete recommendations on specific areas, showing the possibility to integrate a disability perspective into military manuals and military operations.

For example, it details the meaning of ‘accessible warnings’ to persons in the vicinity of armed attacks, and sets our feasible measures regarding the treatment of prisoners of war with disability, in line with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

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