Kyryl Savin / Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung>
30 May 2023
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.
In Ukraine and the Netherlands v. Russia, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) will have the opportunity to clarify and develop several topical points concerning the interpretation and application of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) in situations of international armed conflict. The magnitude of the events from which the case stems is matched by the importance of the legal determinations that the Court is called upon to make.
The Geneva Academy has been granted leave by the ECtHR to intervene as a third party in this case – along with 26 governments – and submitted its third-party intervention on 28 April 2023.
Reflecting the salience of this case, the intervention focuses on three main subjects: (1) the extraterritorial application of the ECHR in an international armed conflict; (2) the relationship between the ECHR and international legal norms governing recourse to armed force between states (ius ad bellum); (3) 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.
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.
UN Women/Aurel Obreja>
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.
Alexander Jawfox, Unsplash>
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:
This IHL Talk discussed nuclear weapons, their humanitarian impact, the impact of technological advancements, the relevance of the deterrence narrative and implications on the international legal framework.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine has triggered heated debate on whether the international community should strive for the establishment of a 'Special Tribunal for Aggression'.
This IHL Talk explored various issues related to the potential establishment of a 'Special Tribunal for Aggression' and will discuss whether such a special tribunal is the best or at least the most appropriate option to make sure that the crime of aggression does not go unpunished.
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.
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
Report of the Legal Review Panel on the Amnesty International Press Release Concerning Ukrainian Fighting Tactics of 4 August 2022
State Emergency Service of Ukraine via Wikimedia Commons>
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).
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.
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:
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.
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).
Our new IHL Expert Pool began to position itself as a flexible tool that human rights mechanisms can rely on to increase their international humanitarian law (IHL) knowledge and to apply IHL in their work.
In addition to the ongoing non-international armed conflicts (NIACs) that oppose the Sudanese armed forces to a number of non-state armed groups in the country, our RULAC online portal just classified a parallel NIAC between Sudan and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) led by General Hamadan.
Organized by the Geneva Academy and the ICRC, the Advanced IHL seminar for academics and humanitarian policymakers aims to enhance the capacity of academics to teach and research IHL and contemporary issues arising during armed conflict, while also equipping policymakers with an in-depth understanding of ongoing legal debates and their relevance to decision-making.
The Rule of Law in Armed Conflicts project (RULAC) is a unique online portal that identifies and classifies all situations of armed violence that amount to an armed conflict under international humanitarian law (IHL). It is primarily a legal reference source for a broad audience, including non-specialists, interested in issues surrounding the classification of armed conflicts under IHL.
Dave Klassen/The EITI
This project aimed at identifying and clarifying policies and practices for states and businesses, including public and private investors, across the full ‘conflict cycle’ and the ‘protect, respect and remedy’ pillars of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.