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ReOpen Ukraine in Miami: International Justice and Postwar Economic Transformation for Ukraine

On October 31, 2022, “ReOpen Ukraine” business breakfast was held in Miami under the patronage of the Embassy of Ukraine in the USA. The event was organized by the Ukrainian Bar Association (the UBA) together with the International Bar Association (the IBA).

As a satellite event of the IBA Annual Conference 2022, the breakfast was organized to draw the attention of the international legal community, governments, international organizations and civil society to activities aimed at restoring the rule of law in Ukraine.

Anna Ogrenchuk, President of the UBA, opened the event, emphasizing that all illegal actions of the Russian Federation on the territory of Ukraine have their own name – war crimes, crimes against humanity and, probably, genocide.

Oksana Markarova, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Ukraine to the USA, in her welcoming speech to those present noted: “The Russian Federation did not start this war either in February, nor 8 years ago. Russia has been preparing for this war for 30 years, the intention to occupy us lasted all 31 years of our independence. We will remember the Holodomor in the 1930ies, and it was a purposeful genocide of the Ukrainian people by the Soviet authorities. The world was silent then, because there was no one to inform the world community about it. Today, everything has changed, and we have the support of international partners on security and financial issues, as well as on the issue of restoring justice. The legal community plays an extraordinary role in this struggle. Together, we are trying to use all legal tools to stop the war, including the 24/7 Atrocity Crimes Advisory Group. We cannot think about reconstruction when Ukraine is destroyed and killed, we cannot think about how to live happily when our people are in danger of death, when residents of the occupied territories are tortured every day, when children cannot go to school. Today, Ukraine and the world have a chance to restore justice.”

Speakers of the event were Mark Ellis, Executive Director of the IBA, Judge Ivana Hrdlickova, President of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, Beth Van Schaack, U.S. State Department’s Ambassador-at-Large for Global Criminal Justice, Vladyslav Rashkovan, Alternate Executive Director of the IMF, Natalie Yaresko, Minister of Finance of Ukraine (2014 – 2016).

The focus of the discussion at the event was as follows:

  • Post-war future of Ukraine and of the world
  • Investigation and prosecution of Russian war crimes against Ukraine – a challenge for national and international justice systems
  • Compensation for damages inflicted by the war
  • Post-war economic transformation. New opportunities for business development in view of Ukraine’s status as a candidate for accession to the European Union
  • Ukraine as a priority area for investment. Key directions and ways of reconstruction of Ukraine. Creating new supply chains

You can find the full video of the event by the link.

Short theses of the speeches:

Beth Van Schaack, U.S. State Department’s Ambassador-at-Large for Global Criminal Justice:

“I would like to identify one weakness of our international justice system, and that is the issue of witness protection. No matter how much open-source information we have, no matter how sophisticatedly it is collected and verified, we will still need real people. Witnesses, victims, and insiders provide data on Putin’s criminal regime – these are the ones who will eventually be needed during cross-examinations, investigations, and trials, even in the presence of verified information from open sources or other evidence. The Syrian example is a great one, there have been several universal jurisdiction cases going forward and the families of many insider witnesses and others who have given evidence have been attacked by representatives of the Assad regime. And we will see it tenfold when it comes to Russian insiders, witnesses, and victims. And that’s why the international community should offer a better system of witness protection.”

Mark Ellis, Executive Director of the IBA:

“The most effective way to bring the guilty to justice is to use all mechanisms, including both the prosecuting cases by Ukrainian judicial authorities, and universal jurisdiction, and the establishment of a Special International Tribunal. It’s all part of a movement to bring attention to accountability and justice, and I’ve never seen anything like this before in my life. The Russian invasion of Ukraine became a catalyst for countries and individuals to demand accountability for these crimes. An important element in this process is the collection of evidence of war crimes. Reliable evidence will increase the chances of proving all crimes in court. For this purpose, the IBA developed the eyeWitness to Atrocities application, which records crimes and verifies all data.

As for the role of the International Criminal Court, it can play a major role in judging the guilty parties, and that will depend on the international community as well. But it is important to remember that the ICC works according to the principle of complementarity. And the primary responsibility lies with national courts.

Ensuring the fairness and impartiality of any judicial process is an international standard and the most difficult task. And even in these extraordinary circumstances, when Ukraine is trying to survive, it must provide the accused with appropriate legal representation. And Ukraine recognizes the need to meet this requirement. That is why we must ensure that we provide necessary assistance so that trials meet international requirements.”

Judge Ivana Hrdlickova, President of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon:

“The establishment of the International Special Tribunal on the crime of aggression by the Russian Federation against Ukraine is possible in various formats, and the nuances of its work and confidence in it will depend on this. If it operates in absentia mode, it is important to decide on its functioning. It is also necessary to resolve the issue of the preservation of evidence and information that will be received. The format of international tribunals differs from the operation of national judicial systems. Already now, it is necessary to decide under which model the Tribunal will operate to guarantee its effectiveness.

The creation of the International Special Tribunal for the Crime of Aggression is a political decision. And even before it is created, there should already be certain developments regarding its functioning. We are talking about effective cooperation tools, sources of financing, and public support. In addition, we already have to decide on the procedure for selecting judges, prosecutors, and attorneys. After all, probably, the decisions of the Tribunal will be appealed.”

Natalie Yaresko, Minister of Finance of Ukraine (2014 – 2016):

“Four concrete steps are needed to restore the economy:

1. A clear and predictable schedule of financial support from the G7 countries. Prioritizing grants, not loans.

2. Urgent development of the basic infrastructure restoration program.

3. Coordination of reconstruction activities and coordination of these efforts among the main stakeholders. Davos and Lugano are beautiful decorations, but Ukraine needs concrete actions.

4. Guarantees from international partners that the change of power will not lead to a revision of the programs and amounts of funding for the restoration of Ukraine.”

Vladyslav Rashkovan, Alternate Executive Director of the IMF:

“We have a paradox on the way to restoring Ukraine. We all think about private capital because it is what ensures development. And it is, and not the money received from international institutions and the largest economies, that creates economic prosperity. The reconstruction or recovery of any country cannot be carried out effectively until international institutions and the largest economies create conditions for private capital to work.

And the IMF solves this paradox by providing financing. But usually, the IMF does not start helping during the war, only after it. And in this sense, the situation with Ukraine is unique, because the IMF provided money to Ukraine already 10 days after the beginning of the Russian aggression. This money opened the door for other donors and the World Bank, which also usually starts providing financing already after conflicts.

But we still need to coordinate financing, the so-called “financial Ramstein” platform was established in Berlin, and now we are working on its next steps.”

Co-sponsors of the event: 

Abreu Advogados (Portugal), ASTERS (Ukraine), AVELLUM (Ukraine), BARBRI (USA), Debevoise & Plimpton (USA), Gorrissen Federspiel (Denmark), Noerr (Poland), Kinstellar (Central Europe & Asia), LCF Law Group (Ukraine), Magnusson (Nordic-Baltic countries), Sayenko Kharenko (Ukraine), Sorainen (Estonia), Waselius & Wist (Finland), White & Case (USA).

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