Panel II: State Crimes and Human Rights
Rustam Atadjanov

KIMEP University

Crimes against Humanity Committed during the Russian-Ukrainian War: Legal and Jurisdictional Aspects, Institutional Issues and Responsibility Challenges

Crimes against humanity constitute one of the four established categories of ‘core crimes’ in international criminal law. These crimes in essence represent massive and widespread violations of human rights in the form of crimes committed against a civilian population. They are the most commonly known among the different types of crimes under international law that is used for labeling mass atrocities every time when the world learns such have occurred. The modern treaty definition of crimes against humanity is found in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. According to available reports, war crimes are not the only type of criminal transgressions perpetrated by the Russian troops in the course of the ongoing war between the aggressor state and Ukraine. There is evidence that crimes against humanity occurred on more than multiple occasions since February 2022 in Ukraine entailing much suffering, destruction and death. These regular occurrences give rise to a multitude of issues that need to be tackled if the responsible party ever to be brought to bear criminal liability and face justice. After explaining the legal nature of crimes against humanity in international law, this presentation will look into those issues of legal, jurisdictional as well as institutional / organizational nature. The speaker will offer a legal qualification of acts committed by Russian forces in Ukraine since the military invasion phase of the conflict has begun, as crimes against humanity, and will provide analytical justification thereto. The presentation aims at providing the audience with a brief but comprehensive account of the main legal, substantive and normative aspects related to crimes against humanity committed in Ukraine. Finally, it will also review the role that humanitarian organizations may or should play in addressing or preventing these crimes as well as in alleviating the suffering of their victims.

Rustam Atadjanov, LLB, LLM, Dr. iur., PhD, is an Associate Professor and Associate Dean at KIMEP University School of Law, Almaty, Kazakhstan. He is an editor and co-editor in several academic books and periodicals including the Central Asian Yearbook of International Law and International Relations, and Ukrainian Law Review. His areas of expertise and research include public international law, international human rights law, international criminal law, international humanitarian law, theory of law and state, constitutional law, criminal law, and more. Dr. Atadjanov authored his monograph “Humanness as a Protected Legal Interest of Crimes against Humanity: Conceptual and Normative Aspects” by T.M.C. Asser Press/Springer in 2019 and wrote around 50 academic and publicist articles, monograph chapters, scholarly papers, encyclopedic contributions and book reviews in a number of European and Asian academic journals. At the KIMEP University School of Law, he teaches Public Law and International Law-related courses.

Rosa Freedman

University of Reading

The United Nations Human Rights Council Special Sessions and Fact-Finding Missions: Shining a spotlight on abuses or failing to protect?

Rosa Freedman researches on the United Nations, and has a number of interests within that area: human rights bodies, creation and implementation of international human rights law, human rights of vulnerable groups (with specific focus on women's rights, SOGI rights, and freedom of religion/belief), accountability for human rights abuses committed by UN actors, preventing sexual exploitation and abuse in conflict and crisis zones, and the intersection between international law and international relations. Rosa has published extensively on the United Nations Human Rights Council and on the United Nations Special Procedures system, as well as on the Haiti Cholera Claims and on sexual exploitation and abuse committed by peacekeeping personnel and humanitarian actors. She fuses doctrinal and empirical research methods, and she deploys interdisciplinary lenses to inform and underpin her findings and analysis. Her work has been funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, British Academy, the Economic and Social Research Council, the Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights, and the Society of Legal Scholars. Rosa joined the University of Reading as the inaugural Chair of Law, Conflict and Global Development and the Director of the Global Development Division, having previously taught at Birmingham Law School and at Queen Mary University of London. She is a Research Fellow at the London Centre for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism. Rosa hold various advisory positions, including being a member of the UN Secretary-General's Civil Society Advisory Board on preventing sexual exploitation and abuse, a member of the FCDO Steering Committee on the Global Framework, and the Civil Society Workstream Lead on the Prevention Project. Rosa works with a broad range of stakeholders, including international organisations, national governments, and civil society actors, and is regularly invited to provide expertise to those actors. She frequently appears in appears in print, online, radio, TV and documentary media.

Gleb Bogush

University of Copenhagen

The Crimes against Humanity and the Ukraine War

International Independent Commission on Inquiry in Ukraine has made in its two reports, published this year, a finding that crimes against humanity are likely to have been committed during the war of aggression against Ukraine, and there are strong indications of the state policy of the Russian Federation to commit such crimes. Allegations of crimes against humanity remain part of the investigation into the situation in Ukraine by the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court. However, those allegations have not yet become part of the broad debates and largely remain in the shadow of other international crimes, such as war crimes and genocide. The paper suggests that such an inferior status of crimes against humanity in accountability discourse is unfortunate and unjustified. Crimes against humanity are essential in understanding the nature and the scale of atrocities in the Ukraine war, and are strongly linked to the larger context of the crime of aggression. The accountability gap has widened since crimes against humanity are still very little known in Ukraine, Russia, and the region. Both parties to the conflict failed to criminalize crimes against humanity as such in their respective criminal codes. The current events constitute the unique momentum to address the deficiencies in the legal framework and criminal justice institutions on the international and domestic levels. The paper considers those challenges and possible solutions to strengthen the international legal framework and institutions to suppress and prevent crimes against humanity.

Gleb Bogush is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Center of Excellence for International Courts, the University of Copenhagen (Denmark). Prior to 2022, he was an Associate Professor of International Law at the HSE University in Moscow. His main area of interest includes international criminal law, the law on the use of force, and international humanitarian law. He holds his PhD from Moscow State University. From 2012 to 2015, Gleb Bogush was an Alexander von Humboldt Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Criminal Law (Germany).


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