IBA condemns Russia on anniversary of Ukraine invasion
Today, 24 February 2023, marks exactly one year since Russia invaded Ukraine.
In October 2022, at the opening ceremony of the IBA Annual Conference in Miami, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed delegates by video in which he referred to members of the audience as “defenders of the law and human rights”. He outlined the vital role of lawyers in ensuring justice is served to the instigators of the Russian invasion.
IBA president Almudena Arpón de Mendívil Aldama said: “We have witnessed a flagrant breach of the law for a year now. We are experiencing a great threat to democracy and justice. The international legal community, with the IBA acting as its common voice, has reacted not only by supporting Ukraine on all possible legal fronts, but also by reaffirming the fundamental values of our profession.
“I wish to use this anniversary to signal that the IBA will make every possible effort to ensure there will be legal accountability, including individual criminal liability. Finally, I express again today my solidarity and admiration for our Ukraine colleagues who continue performing their duties before their clients and their country in the worst circumstances.”
The prosecutor general of Ukraine, Andriy Kostin, and the IBA have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on cooperation to ensure accountability for war crimes and other international crimes including the crime of aggression.
To ensure the effective representation of cases concerning war crimes, the IBA has also signed an MOU with Ukraine’s Ministry of Justice and the Coordination Centre for Legal Aid Provision that sets out the terms of support for free legal aid provision. In addition, an IBA-Ukraine Ministry of Defense MOU is being drafted with a focus on the improvement of the legislative framework to ensure proper defence in cases concerning military crimes.
IBA executive director Dr Mark Ellis said: “Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is unconscionable, and as we mark one year since the military assault, it is imperative that we remind ourselves what is at stake regarding international law.
“At this time, the conflict in Ukraine shows no signs of abating. It is indisputable that widespread, systematic and indiscriminate attacks against civilians and civilian objects have been committed over the course of this war. The international community has a responsibility to bring the perpetrators of these crimes to justice, including the creation of a special tribunal for the crime of aggression. We will continue to implement the various MOUs between the IBA and Ukraine’s governmental entities, and provide expert knowledge and training to Ukraine to support efforts towards accountability and justice.”