The community of Ukrainian lawyers, including the Ukrainian Bar Association, the Ukrainian Association of International Law, the Ukrainian Arbitration Association, the Ukrainian Advocates’ Association, and others, appealed to the Convention to Prevent and Punish the Crime of Genocide (Genocide Convention) totake decisive action to end the genocide of the Ukrainian people and to ensure accountability for the crimes already committed.
The world has not yet seen the full scale of Russia’s barbaric actions, but we should not expect further confirmation of Russia’s brutality or new atrocities. Action has to be taken now to comply with the requirements of the international obligation erga omnes to prevent and punish the international crime of genocide (under Article I of the Genocide Convention).
Genocide, as defined in Article 2 of the Convention, includes acts committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group as such: a) killing members of the group; b) causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; c) deliberately inflictingon the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; d) imposing measures to prevent births within the group; e) forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
As of April 4, 2022, a number of facts have already been documented and confirmed by independent observers, including:
- Intentional killing of civilians, torture and mass rape, including of children, women and the elderly;
- Russia’s ongoing indiscriminate shelling of homes, hospitals, schools, and kindergartens in Mariupol, Kharkiv, Chernihiv, Sumy, Izyum, Okhtyrka, and other Ukrainian cities in order to instill fear and subjugate;
- Russia’s refusal to provide humanitarian aid to those in need in the occupied and besieged cities;
- mass deportations of the civilian population of Ukraine from the occupied territories; it is already confirmed that about 40 thousand citizens of Ukraine, including at least 2389 childrenwere forcibly deported to Russia or Belarus;
The specific intention of Russian criminals to commit genocide of Ukrainians by the total or partial eradication of Ukrainians as a national group is acknowledged by the following facts:
- Russian President Vladimir Putin unequivocally explained that Russian state policy should target Ukrainians as a national group and deny Ukraine’s right to exist as a sovereign nation;
- the declared goals of Russia’s aggressive war against Ukraine –“denazification” and “demilitarization” – actually mean the murder or deportation and re-education of Ukrainians;
- Intentional crimes against women and girls (rape, murder and forced deportation, often committed in front of family members) are aimed at subjugating and humiliating both the victim woman and her family;
- Russia’s use of deliberate indiscriminate shelling against the civilian population of Ukraine;
- Russia’s refusal to provide humanitarian assistance to Ukrainian civilians is an act of deliberate creation of living conditions for civilians, designed for their physical destruction and the task of deep psychological trauma;
- The use of mobile crematoria and mass graves to hide the true number of civilians killed by the Russians;
- Intentional or deliberate indiscriminate destruction of Ukrainian cultural heritage: according to data, at least 53 culturally important objects were damaged (museums, theaters, historic buildings, monuments, and religious buildings), destruction of Ukrainian literature, especially books on Ukrainian history and struggle for independence, there are also facts of abductions and murders of teachers and priests of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine;
- Russia is aimed at Ukrainian activists, journalists, politicians, and other patriots;
- Incitement to hatred against Ukrainians through the Russian state media, which call for the purge and “re-education” of Ukrainians, forcing them to renounce their Ukrainian national identity.
These models of criminal behavior are fully consistent with the characteristics of the crime of genocide under Article 2 (a), (b), (c), and (e) of the Genocide Convention and satisfy the criterion of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The preamble to the Genocide Convention clearly states that international cooperation is necessary to prevent genocide. The Ukrainian Bar Association calls on each Contracting Party to the Genocide Convention to use all available means to prevent further genocide of Russia against Ukraine, in particular:
- increase Ukraine’s defense capabilities, among other things, by providing Ukraine with weapons;
- impose a comprehensive embargo on Russia’s energy resources, including oil, gas, and coal;
- strengthen sanctions against Russia and Belarus (exclude all Russian and Belarusian banks from SWIFT; ban the export to Russia and Belarus of spare parts that can be used for the production of missiles, bombs, and other weapons or military equipment; impose sanctions against persons/legal entities that directly or indirectly trade in arms, fuel, etc. with Russia and Belarus; strengthen the existing sanctions regime by preventing delays and eliminating various exceptions that have been widely abused; close ports to Russian vessels or vessels chartered by any Russian company; prohibit investment in Russia and Belarus; immediately diversify supply chains to stop trade with Russia and Belarus, including suspending customs clearance of Russian and Belarusian products; suspend scientific, cultural and technical cooperation with Russia and Belarus; ban Russian and Belarusian training in manufacturing of any type of weapon or related technologies; require all international companies to immediately cease their business activities with Russian public and private companies, etc.);
- facilitate the investigation and prosecution of those involved in the ongoing crime of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity;
- increase humanitarian aid to Ukraine and border states to facilitate the living conditions of millions of refugees and internally displaced persons who were forced to flee the war.
The Ukrainian legal community calls on the international community to take immediate and decisive action to stop the genocide of Ukrainians!
The Ukrainian Bar Association calls on all lawyers to sign the appeal to the international community in order to prevent further genocide of the population of Ukraine! The signature form is available here.