Points of Ukraine: Putin’s Widening Grip

Vitaly Klitschko talks with pro-European integration protesters at the site of clashes with riot police in Kiev.

Today, Ms. Holland began the panel discussion by introducing the agenda of the event, which concerned examining different perspectives on the continuing conflict between Ukraine and Russia.  Then, Mr. Karatnycky provided an overview of the history of the conflict and the potential obstacles that may impede a negotiated settlement to it.  He elaborated that though President Vladimir Putin is using hard tactics to maintain control over Crimea, he has triggered the latent sentiments of a large contingent of Russians and elites that never wanted Ukraine and Crimea to separate from Russia.  Additionally, he mentioned that the main problem regarding using diplomacy to end the conflict stems from Russia’s unwillingness to reach an agreement with Ukraine.

Next, Dr. Nikolayenko spoke of the effect of the conflict on the civil society and citizens of Ukraine.  She stated that with over 8,000 Russian soldiers present in Ukraine and 9,100 human casualties that have resulted in death, the conflict has led to a growing number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the country and a slowdown of Ukraine’s economy.  Additionally, she mentioned that the Russian government’s influence over the Russian media has led to misrepresentations on the reporting of the conflict and swayed public support in President Putin’s favor.  Lastly, Ms. Arno talked about fleeing Russia after protesting President Putin’s inauguration in 2012 and the punishments other pro-democracy Russians face in the country due to their political views.  She also reinforced the idea that President Putin’s control over Russian media outlets have helped to build support for Russia’s actions in Ukraine. Additionally, she mentioned that the Free Russia Foundation that she founded seeks to give a voice to pro-democracy Russians and Ukrainians embroiled in the conflict.

Meeting: The Panel Discussion on “The Continuing Conflict Between Russia and Ukraine”

Date/Time/Location: Monday, April 18, 2016; 18:00 – 20:00; New York University (NYU) School of Law, Vanderbilt Hall, Room 210

Speakers: Ms. Mary Holland, Moderator and Director of the Graduate Lawyering Program at New York University (NYU) School of Law; Mr. Adrian Karatnycky, Senior Fellow and Co-Director of the Ukraine in Europe Program at the Atlantic Council; Dr. Olena Nikolayenko, Associate Professor of Political Science at Fordham University; Ms. Natalia Arno, President and Founder of the Free Russia Foundation (FRF)  

Written By: WIT Representative Shubhangi Shukla

Edited By: WIT Representative Alex Margolick

Photo: Reuters

Legality and Occupation: Civil Rights in Crimea

The Permanent Mission of Ukraine organized a meeting today on human rights in occupied territory, specifically in the case of Crimea. Crimea is a peninsula on the Northern Coast of the Black Sea that has been facing deterioration in the free practice of human rights since March 18th, 2014, when the Russian Federation illegally occupied the area. This meeting, led by Ms. Holland, was initiated with a statement by Mr. Sergeyev about the present problem. Ms. Bilych introduced the project and its four parts: the history and context of the situation, a description of the human rights at hand, the remedies for people whose rights have been violated, and the recommendations for organizations worldwide. The Russian Federation has attempted to seize the Ukraine Peninsula, and the goal of the Organization as an international community is to ensure the civil, political, social, economic, and cultural rights of Crimeans.

There have been various organizations that have aided the country and this meeting provided a method of addressing the situation as well as an understanding of the legal framework in the situation. The Organization suggested specific solutions: the United Nation’s special mechanism to monitor fundamental freedoms, such as that from torture or any other inhuman treatment; ways to enable organizing religious meetings; and methods to save confiscated books and access electronic communication. Ms. Sharven discussed the recommendations to demand action, aid, refrain, and act in specific scenarios by working with the UN and the countries involved, and of the creation of Special International Tribunal, special database, and ad hoc markets. The speakers also provided their personal testimonies and individual cases of the injustice they faced. Today’s comprehensive meeting shed light on this occurring crisis on the persecuted people in Crimea by providing a full review on the problem and detailed, feasible solutions.

Meeting: Crimea: Human Rights, Global Security and International Order

Date/Location: Wednesday, December 9th, 2015; 10:00-12:00; Conference Room 11

Speakers: Ms. Mary Holland, Director of the Graduate Legal Skills Program at New York University School of Law, Yuriy Sergeyev, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the United Nations, Ivanna Bilych, Victor Chinedu Okpara, Ajitha Pichaipillai, Olena Sharven, Matheus Sena

Written By: WIT Representative Jin Yoo

Edited By: WIT Representative Alex Margolick

Photo Credit: HBInretrospect

International Law and Crisis in Ukraine: A Roundtable Discussion

Recent events in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine have raised an array of challenging issues related to self-determination, secession, international intervention, and annexation. The panel aims to explore the legal and policy implications of these issues.

Note: It was recorded that no representative were present from the Russian Federation or from the 11 nation states that were against UN General Assembly Resolution 68/262 that was adopted on 27 March 2014, entitled “Territorial integrity of Ukraine”

In the pursuit of conducting a balanced debate on the issue of Crimea, participants were shown a video of the Republic of Nicaragua delegation providing the UN General Assembly their reasoning for voting against resolution 68/262. The main point highlighted related to the issue of self-determination. This Managua believed validated both – the referendum itself hosted in Crimea on March 16, 2014 and its outcome to join the Russian Federation.

H.E. Yuriy Sergeyev strongly posited that the referendum was illegitimate as it was inspired by Russia and the plebiscite took place while Russian soldiers occupied the peninsula. A similar view is shared by the 100 nations states that were in favour of resolution 68/262 on respecting the territorial integrity of Ukraine.

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Christopher Borgen, acting as a legal advisor on the panel, stated that Moscow’s rationale of categorizing the events, as humanitarian intervention too did not have any legal biases, as matters of intervention do not fall within the jurisdiction of the Crimean Constitution [Article 1] as granted by the parent state; Ukraine. Furthermore, he argued that even if the idea of self-determination is condoned in this scenario, it by no means gives any right to entirely dismember the state.

H.E. Ambassador Yuriy further denounced Moscow for violating the 1994 Budapest Agreement and for acting in a manner inconsistent with international law and thus “creating an imbalance in the international security environment”. As part of the agreement of ‘94, Ukraine had given up its nuclear weapons “on the basis of an explicit Russian guarantee of its territorial integrity”. However by breaching this guarantee, President Putin has undermined the foundational framework of the international order by disrespecting historical obligations that take expression in the form of treaties, pacts and agreements.

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Meeting Title:  International Law and Crisis in Ukraine: A Roundtable Discussion
Speakers: Bettina B. Plevan Proskauer Rose LLP, Chair, Council on International Affairs; Ambassador Yuriy Sergeyev, Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the United Nations; Christopher J. Borgen, Associate Dean for International Studies and Professor of Law, St. John’s University School of Law; Mark A. Meyer, Honorary Consul of the Republic of Moldova in New York, Herzfeld & Rubin, P.C.
Location: The Council on International Affairs of the New York City Bar Association
Date: 4 June 2014
Summary by WIT representative: Apurv Gupta
Edited by WIT representative: Sophia Griffiths-Mark 

 

Evolving Crisis in Ukraine and its Global Implications

NYU panel discussion

The Razom Sponsored ‘White Papers’ were put together in a collaborative effort to assist government, media and civil society to understand what has happened in Ukraine from a legal perspective and to predict and prepare for what will happen next.

Ms. Ivanna Bilych, co-author of the white papers, reiterated the illegality of the Crimea referendum, which breaches the Ukraine Constitution, territorial integrity and voters’ rights. The referendum was completed in just ten days, holding citizens at gunpoint, clearly violations of democracy and international law.

Mr. Alexander Gudko explained that the closest precedent is the Turkey and Northern Cyprus annexation, which was not recognized by the international community as a separate state and therefore this legal framework and response should be exercised again for the Crimean situation.

Mr de Moura Sena reminded the meeting of the energy ties between Russia and Ukraine as Russia builds a new pipeline for natural gas. Russia would face much higher development costs if the pipe were built along the deep seabed, rather than using the Crimean coast. The tensions surrounding European energy needs and Russia’s ability to provide this energy are central to this Crisis.

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A key element to the Crimean situation is Russia’s violation of the Budapest Memorandum on security assurances, signed by all members of the Security Council and Ukraine. It was issued to ensure Ukraine would forfeit its nuclear weapons in return for complete political independence and freedom from threats or use of force against territorial integrity.

Dr. Paul Goble declared that Vladimir Putin has disregarded international law and human rights on his own personal agenda for power and expanding the Russian empire. Dr. Goble emphasised that a major step for western nations should be to provide alternative Russian language entertainment and news, to replace the existing Moscow TV. Moscow TV, being the Russian language entertainment monopoly, is manipulated to destabilise neighbouring countries in subversive attacks ordered from the Kremlin.

 

Meeting Title: Evolving Crisis in Ukraine and its Global Implications
Speakers: Mary Holland of NYU School of law, Ivanna Bilych General Counsel for Razom, Paul Goble expert in the post-Soviet region, Alexander Gudko and Matheus de Moura Sena co-author of the White papers, Giorgi Kvelashvili Senator Counselor for Georgia at the UN and Adrius Kalindra from the OSCE.
Location: NYU School of Law, New York
Date: 29 May 2014
Written by WIT representative: Sophia Griffiths-Mark

Continued Instability Leading up to Elections

The Ukrainian Crisis continues: Ukrainian women stand up for their right to participate

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The international community has watched as conflict has risen throughout Ukraine and Russia’s invasion of Crimea has lead to the displacement of over 10,000 people, mostly of the ethnic population, the Tatars. As the search to find effective resolutions continue the situation remains unstable and it is impossible to predict the outcome of this weekend’s Presidential election on Sunday the 25th of May.

Miss Natalia Karbowska from the Ukrainian Women’s Fund shared three key personal observations from her participation in Ukraine situation since November of 2013. The first was the power of civil society, as millions of people gathered at Maidan Nezalezhnosti throughout December, January and February. This active civil society protests for changing policies, rule of law that respects diversity and improving the life of Ukrainians. Secondly, women that were expected to hold stereotypical roles instead participated in protests in Kiev, and hundreds of women that were doctors, lawyers and other professional became the protectors of their communities from government sponsored rebels. Thirdly, the division across Ukraine has been historically significant and yet in the past 22 years since its democratisation none of the Ukrainian presidents have enforced a cohesive initiative to unite the Ukrainian people and bridge the cultural gap.

Professor Grigore Pop-Eleches from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University presented data on the separatist movement throughout Ukraine. Across political, economic and ethnic perceptions the country is clearly divided geographically between the West and the East, particularly the Southeastern region. This significant divide creates a nervous and unstable civil society, which is a risky and unpredictable environment for the upcoming Presidential elections. Alongside the rift within Ukraine geographically there is also a detachment between the civil society and politicians particularly towards women who are often excluded from political proceedings.

Meeting Title: Invest in Women for Peace: Conflict Prevention and Women’s Participation in Ukraine
Speakers: H.E. Ambassador of Liechtenstein Christian Wenaweser, Grigore Pop-Eleches from Princeton University and Natalia Karbowska from Ukrainians Women’s Fund
Location: United Nations HQ, New York
Date: 21 May 2014
Written by WIT representatives: Sophia Griffiths-Mark, Modou Cham and Rachel Lauren