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

Remembering the Holodomor Famine



The Permanent Mission of Ukraine hosted a meeting on occasion of the 82nd anniversary of the Holodomor famine in the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. The famine was an effort by the dictator Joseph Stalin to eliminate the Ukrainian independence movement, and it resulted in the deaths of 7-10 million people, which was nearly a quarter of Ukraine’s rural population. 25,000 people died per day, and 3 million children were senselessly murdered. The Soviet regime established unreachable grain quotas, confiscated foodstuffs, and closed Ukraine’s borders with no food and no chance to escape. Therefore, the famine is considered to be a genocide, which the UN defines as “any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy a national, ethnic, racial or religious group”.

The meeting was also held to honor the recent resolution passed by the UN, which marks December 9 as the International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of the Victims of the Crime of Genocide and of the Prevention of This Crime. The speaker was Mr. Yuriy Sergeyev, who said that like the Holodomor genocide, food insecurity continues to be employed and used as political weapons. However, he explained that politically induced famines cannot occur in societies with democratic regimes, and thus, the simple solution is democracy. In addition, he stated that international societies like the UN have a responsibility to secure the protection of literacy, education, development, human rights, and freedom. Mr. Sergeyev noted that the meeting was also held to keep the memory of those who died during the genocide, and make sure that the world will understand the magnitude of the genocide to ensure an atrocity like this will never happen again. After the speaker, students from the Self-Reliance School of Ukrainian Studies recited poems and sang songs.

Meeting: Special event on “Combating Food Insecurity: Holodomor of 1932-33 in Ukraine” (on the occasion of the eighty-second anniversary of the Holodomor of 1932-1933 in Ukraine) (organized by the Permanent Mission of Ukraine)

Date/Location: Wednesday December 9, 2015, 13:15 – 14:30; Conference Room 8

Speakers: Mr. Yuriy A. Sergeyev, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Permanent Representative of Permanent Mission of Ukraine

Written By: WIT Representative Kangho (Paul) Jung

Edited By: WIT Representative Alex Margolick

Photo Credit: Boston University

Security Council Demands Access to MH17 Site

security council

The Security Council met yet again to discuss the downing of flight MH17 following the improper treatment of the crash site by the separatists in Eastern Ukraine over the weekend. The Council unanimously passed Resolution 2166 demanding armed groups to give international investigators “safe, secure, full and unrestricted access” to the site. The agreement also insisted on the dignified treatment and recovery of the remains of the victims.

Ambassador Samantha Power of America stated that the resolution was passed because there are “armed thugs” walking on the site with “debris crunching beneath their feet.” She added that, “If Russia is not part of the solution, it will continue to be part of the problem,” when commenting on Russia’s finding Ukraine culpable for the incident. Ambassador Churkin of Russia responded that the literary track chosen by Ambassador Power made the meeting controversial and turned “the discussion of a tragedy into a farce.” He also made further claims, alleging that Kiev is drawing on the shock of the incident for self-serving purposes and that evidences submitted by Ukraine have been tampered with. In response, Ambassador Surgeyev of Ukraine stated that his government has been forthright with the investigation process and has invited representatives of four countries, including Russia, to examine the site according to international conventions.

The Foreign Ministers of Australia, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, whose compatriots were victims of the flight, were present. Ms. Bishop of Australia said her country “will not rest until we bring them home.” Portraying the emotions of his nation, Mr. Timmermans of the Netherlands stated that the grief of the Dutch nation turns into anger when child victims’ toys are “being tossed around.” He stated that the impeded access of the rescue workers is an example of “the political game that someone is playing.”

Meeting Title: 7221th Meeting of the UN Security Council

Speakers: Representatives of Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Chad, China, Chile, France, Germany, Indonesia, Jordan, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, The Netherlands, NewZealand, Nigeria, The Philippines, Republic of Korea and Rwanda, Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, The United States, Ukraine and Vietnam to the United Nations

Location: Security Council Chamber, United Nations Headquarters, New York City

Date: 21 July 2014

Summary Written by WIT Representative: Harrison Chung

Edited by: Suzy Hallak

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.


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.


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.


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


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

The White Paper Presentation – “Crisis in Ukraine: Its Legal Dimensions”


From left to right: Ivanna Bilych, Mary Holland, Ambassador of Ukraine H.E. Yuriy Sergeyev and Alexander Gudko

Today at the United Nations Headquarters, an international team of legal scholars from the organization RAZOM, presented their report, The White Paper – “Crisis in Ukraine: Its Legal Dimension”. RAZOM is an NGO established to support the people of Ukraine in their continued quest for democracy, justice, and human rights. The report gives policy makers and diplomats the legal tools to help stop further escalation of the current crisis threatening Ukraine’s peace and the international order. Lawyer and co-author of The White Paper, Ivanna Bilych, elucidated that, it is the first and only report that provides an in-depth look at the current situation in Ukraine. It also gives the International Community a solid recommendation on how to deal with the Russian Federation. Recommendations include reframing from recognizing Crimea as part of Russia, which the UN GA established back in March 27th, with 100 votes against the Crimea Referendum.

The Ambassador of Ukraine made it clear that Ukraine is NOT at civil war. The current situation is due to unilateral actions by the Russian government violating international law and the principles of sovereignty, which are central to the United Nations. Russian polls suggested that 97% of Crimean residents wanted to join the Russian Federation, however The White Paper shows that the fate of Crimea was decided by just 15% of the population who were in favor of the Russian invasion. Ambassador Sergeyev insists that much of Russian voting statistics should be disregarded due to duress, as violence and force played a major role in their illegal placement in Crimea.

In response, the delegate of Canada openly affirmed their strong support for the Ukraine, having already placed sanctions against Russia and travel bans on Russian and Ukrainian officials involved in the illegal Crimea Referendum. Canada has also promised to provide monitors, to ensure a free and democratic environment for the upcoming election, and will be financially supporting Ukraine with $240 million in loans and bilateral assistance. Poland and Latvia also declared their support for Ukraine and insisted that Russia has fundamentally broken international law with their invasion of Crimea. These delegates commend The White Paper’s recommendations going forward in ensuring Ukraine’s sovereignty based on their signing of the Budapest Referendum.

Ambassador Sergeyev, the Razom Organization and the international team of legal scholars that put together this document, encourage all people to access The White Paper and ensure that they keep actively informed.


Meeting Title – The White Paper Presentation – “Crisis in Ukraine: Its Legal Dimensions”
Speakers – The Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the United Nations, H.E. Yuriy Sergeyev, Delegates from Canada, Poland, Latvia, and Norway, Mary Holland, Ivanna Bilych, Alexander Gudko, Kateryna Kuntsevich, Matheus de Moura Sena, Malvika Seth, and Olena Sharvan.
Location – United Nations Headquarters, NLB 6
Date – May 8th, 2014
Summary Written By – Modou Cham, Rin lee, and Sophia Griffiths-Mark


Vice President Biden to Travel to Ukraine

12 April 2014

WASHINGTON, DC – The Vice President will travel to Kyiv, Ukraine, for meetings with government leaders and members of civil society on Tuesday, April 22nd.  The Vice President will underscore the United States’ strong support for a united, democratic Ukraine that makes its own choices about its future path.  While in Kyiv, the Vice President will consult with government officials on the international community’s efforts to help stabilize and strengthen Ukraine’s economy and assist Ukraine in moving forward on constitutional reform, decentralization, anti-corruption efforts, and free and fair presidential elections on May 25th.

The Vice President will discuss the latest developments in eastern Ukraine, where pro-Russian separatists, apparently with the support of Moscow, continue an orchestrated campaign of incitement and sabotage to destabilize the Ukrainian state.  In addition, the Vice President will consult on the latest steps to enhance Ukraine’s short- and long-term energy security.  The Vice President will also meet with various Ukrainian people to hear their aspirations and deepen the partnership between the United States and Ukraine.


Office of the Vice President

General Assembly Votes on the Crimea Referendum

United Nations, New York Headquarters, 27 March 2014
During the morning of March 27th in the General Assembly, over 100 countries voted against the action of Russia annexing Crimea from Ukraine. Statements were made by many of the representatives of EU, South America, Asia and Africa.  The rationale of allowing Russia to vote in the Security Council on this issue was also questioned by some member states.
Ukraine was established in the 9th century as RUS in Kyiv, Capital of Ukraine,  and was a thriving democracy.  In the 14-15 century the Moscow kingdom began conquering the lands that belonged to Ukraine and establishing serfdom for its people and in 1654 Moscow decided to become an empire and took the name RUS and its history as its own.
The history of absorbing other countries and taking away the freedom of the people has continued during the Soviet Union and now, as evidenced in Georgia and  Crimea.  However, due to the UN Charter and the proliferation of the Internet via Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc., over 100 nations took a stand against Russia in its attempt to continue its history of imperialism.
Meeting – Sixty-eighth session -80th plenary meeting- Prevention of armed conflict: Strengthening the role of mediation in the peaceful settlement of disputes, conflict prevention and resolution: draft resolution