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 

 

UN organizations address the 13th session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues

The seventh meeting for the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues facilitated a comprehensive dialogue from United Nations organisations on their progress in promoting the rights of indigenous persons with responses from Permanent members of the forum. Interventions from many UN bodies revolved around three major issue areas; the full participation of indigenous persons in their right to self-determination, ‘free, prior and informed consent’ in regards to Indigenous land rights, and the sufficient funding of organisations for long term protection of indigenous rights.

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Denmark, Bolivia, UNDP, IFAD, and the IFC all directly addressed concerns that governments are favoring the demands of the private mining industry and the sustainable development of our natural resources requires the collaborative consultation of indigenous persons. The African Caucus recognized that natural resources are usually extracted from heritage sites with unique and spiritual ties to indigenous traditions and ancestry. Therefore it is of paramount importance that indigenous persons be involved in the decisions directly affecting their sacred land.

UNECSO and FAO demonstrated that indigenous people have a unique understanding of the sustainability and protection of their environments through systems such as pastoral farming, which could enable a more resilient response to climate change for our fragile ecosystems. The IFAD, ILO and permanent member of the forum Joseph Goko Mutangah insisted that the United Nations should be capturing the wealth of agricultural, medicinal and ecological innovations that indigenous traditions encompass.

Representative of the American Indian Alliance and chairperson of the forum Dr. Dalee Sambo Dorough, expressed concerns that the United Nations organisations are only authorised to serve indigenous persons from developing countries. Statistics demonstrate that indigenous persons are equally marginalised in both developing and developed nations. They called for a revision of the policy to allow indigenous persons in all countries access to the United Nations’ agencies and funds.

Meeting Title: 7th meeting – Comprehensive dialogue with United Nations agencies and funds
Speakers: Chairperson Dr. Dalee Sambo Dorough, Permanent members of the forum Gervais Nzoa, Joan Garling, Kara-Kys Arakchaa, Miriam Wallet Aboubakrine, Miriam Wallet Aboubakrine, Maria Eugenia Choque Quispe, Joseph Goko Mutangah, Raja Devasish Roy
Representatives on behalf of organizations; UNICEF, FAO, ILO, IFAD, UNDP, IFC, UNESCO, World Bank, Ministry of foreign affairs Denmark, the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation, the African Caucus, Indigenous Parliamentarians, Alliance of Indigenous women of Central America and Mexico, WIPO (New York), Central & Eastern Europe, Russian federation, Central Asia and Transcaucasia, Bolivia, and the American Indian Law alliance
Location: United Nations HQ, New York
Date: 15 May 2014
Written by WIT representative: Sophia Griffiths-Mark