Marking the second anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

Friday 1 March 2024

As the world marks the second anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, we express our staunch condemnation of Russia's violations of international law and human rights, and we pay tribute to Ukraine’s display of commitment to law and justice.

The assault, orchestrated by Russian President Vladimir Putin, not only targets Ukraine but also undermines the foundations of the international rules-based order. Within Russia, Putin's regime has fostered an environment of endemic corruption, widespread human rights abuses, and the stifling of dissent through intimidation and censorship of independent media. The suppression and imprisonment of political opponents, epitomised by the attempted assassination, incarceration and eventual death of opposition leader, lawyer, and anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny, underscore Putin's ruthless disregard for democracy and the rule of law.

In stark contrast, amidst the ongoing brutality of the invasion and the devastating toll it has exacted, Ukraine has demonstrated commendable resolve in upholding the rule of law. Despite facing overwhelming aggression, the Ukrainian government has leveraged external assistance to train its legal professionals, ensuring the competence needed to navigate the complexities of war crimes trials. With international support, Ukraine has gathered evidence for trials to be held in both domestic and international courts, holding hope for eventual justice. Moreover, Ukraine has established and activated legal mechanisms to facilitate the exchange of prisoners of war and the retrieval of abducted children, all while steadfastly, amid the conflict, respecting human rights and the rule of law.

Collectively, these endeavours offer a potent and praiseworthy juxtaposition to the conduct of Russia, whose incursion into Ukraine has facilitated multiple purported war crimes and crimes against humanity during the preceding biennium. 

Although this anniversary is a sombre occasion, and as we reflect on the global implications of this ongoing conflict in Europe and its broader impact on freedom and democracy worldwide, it should also be a time of pride for Ukraine’s conduct of this war. We commend Ukraine’s unwavering commitment to the principles of the rule of law, international law and humanitarian law in the midst of battle.

Dr Mark Ellis, Executive Director, International Bar Association (IBA)

Baroness Helena Kennedy KC, Director, IBA's Human Rights Institute


Notes to the Editor

  1. Related material:
  2. The International Bar Association (IBA), the global voice of the legal profession, is the foremost organisation for international legal practitioners, bar associations and law societies. Established in 1947, shortly after the creation of the United Nations, it was born out of the conviction that an organisation made up of the world's bar associations could contribute to global stability and peace through the administration of justice..

  3. The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI), established in 1995 under Founding Honorary President Nelson Mandela, is an autonomous and financially independent entity, working to promote, protect and enforce human rights under a just rule of law, and to preserve the independence of the judiciary and the legal profession worldwide.


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