Ukrainian legal practitioners visit The Hague for high-level training in international criminal justice

Friday 28 June 2024

A delegation of 25 Ukrainian legal professionals recently travelled to The Hague to participate in training sessions to expand their knowledge and skills in the field of international criminal justice. Judges and prosecutors from district and regional courts, justices of the Supreme Court, officials of the Office of the Prosecutor General, defence lawyers and representatives of civil society organisations were among the delegation's participants.

IBA Executive Director Dr Mark Ellis commented: ‘The study visit was critical in strengthening the capacities of Ukrainian colleagues to handle international crimes proceedings at the national level, in Ukraine. It is necessary that justice is not only seen to be done in Ukraine but is actually done and conducted correctly. I applaud the participants’ commitment towards justice and accountability efforts in Ukraine and justice for all.’

The 11–14 June 2024 visit was organised by the International Bar Association (IBA) in partnership with the Ukrainian Bar Association (UBA) as part of a project titled ‘Trial Monitoring in War Crimes Cases’. The UBA’s visit was made possible by a grant agreement with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Human Rights in Action Program, implemented by the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union (UHHRU). The project examines the respect of fair trial rights against international standards, with the aim of outlining best judicial practice and offering recommendations to address any shortfalls.

The IBA’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) Director Baroness Helena Kennedy LT KC said: ‘An extraordinary volume of war crimes cases has been brought before the Ukrainian national criminal justice system since the Russian aggression and the start of the full-scale war in Ukraine in 2022. In order to achieve justice and accountability and to make sure that fair trial standards are being followed, monitoring war crime trials is an essential step. Because of this, the IBAHRI has been working in collaboration with the IBA and the UBA on monitoring war crime trials in Ukraine; it is really crucial work.’

UBA Executive Director Viktoriia Krasnova said, ‘The visit to The Hague has been an invaluable experience for Ukrainian legal practitioners. Building capacities in international criminal justice is crucial for Ukraine as we navigate the complexities of war crimes and ensure justice for victims. The knowledge and skills gained from this study visit will significantly enhance legal practitioners' ability to handle these cases with the rigor and fairness they demand. We extend our sincere gratitude to the International Bar Association and the IBA’s Human Rights Institute for their unwavering support and dedication to justice and accountability in Ukraine.’

Over the course of the visit, participants visited Hague-based international tribunals and institutions, including the International Criminal Court, the Kosovo Specialist Chambers and Specialist Prosecutor’s Office, the European Union Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation (Eurojust) and the Register of Damage caused by the Russian aggression against Ukraine. During the visits, participants gained knowledge about the operations of global organisations and had the opportunity to engage with both working-level officials and high-level experts.

During training sessions, the participants explored different aspects of international criminal trials including the investigation, prosecution and adjudication of international crimes; fair trial rights and the rights of the accused, particularly during trials in absentia; the collection of open-source evidence; and the crime of genocide. Part of the study visit took place in association with the T.M.C. Asser Institute, which provided participants with sessions based on their fair trials handbook, and on judgement drafting from a fair trials perspective. The Director of the IBA International Criminal Court and International Criminal Law Programme Kate Orlovsky commented: ‘We are honoured to have welcomed legal professionals from Ukraine, and to support them in their efforts to develop expertise and capacities to investigate, prosecute, and adjudicate international crimes in Ukraine.’

IBA support for Ukraine

The IBA condemned in the strongest terms the Russian invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022 and has been active in the country ever since. The IBA works closely with both the UBA and the Ukrainian National Bar Association and has created a dedicated fund to support their humanitarian efforts. The IBA signed memoranda of understanding with the Office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine and with the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense aimed at ensuring accountability for war crimes and other international crimes. Furthermore, the IBAHRI Director Baroness Kennedy LT KC co-chairs a hybrid task force focused on the return of deported Ukrainian children and the IBA-founded eyeWitness to Atrocities app is being used to gather potential evidence of crimes committed during the conflict and to draft reports, including, for example, on the destruction of Ukrainian healthcare facilities following the Russian aggression. The IBA also supports the establishment of the Special Tribunal for the Crime of Aggression against Ukraine.


Contact: IBApressoffice@int-bar.org

Notes to the Editor

  1. Related material:

  2. The IBA commenced the International Criminal Court and International Criminal Law (ICC & ICL) Programme in 2005. Since its establishment, the IBA ICC & ICL Programme has contributed to the development of international criminal justice through monitoring and analysing issues related to fairness and equality of arms at the ICC, and through conducting outreach to deepen the understanding of the place of the ICC within the broader landscape of international justice and in particular contexts. The Programme works to increase cooperation with and support for the ICC and other accountability efforts, with the goal of strengthening the Rome Statute system globally and achieving fair, effective and accessible justice for victims of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and aggression.

    The Programme also acts as the interface between the Courts and the global legal community. As such, special focus is placed on monitoring emerging issues of particular relevance to lawyers and collaborating with key partners on specific activities to increase engagement of the legal community on ICC and ICL issues.

    Based in The Hague, the IBA ICC & ICL Programme consults and engages with court officials, state representatives, civil society organisations, academics and international lawyers.

  3. 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.

  4. Find the IBA on social media here:


For further information please contact:

Kate Orlovsky
Director, Hague Office
International Bar Association

Nassaulaan 19
2514 JT The Hague
The Netherlands

Mobile: +31 (0) 70 737 0686
Email: kate.orlovsky@int-bar.org
Website: www.ibanet.org

Press Office
International Bar Association

Chancery House
53-64 Chancery Lane
London WC2A 1QS
United Kingdom

Direct Line: +44 (0)20 7842 0094
Email: IBApressoffice@int-bar.org
Website: www.ibanet.org

Website page link for this news release:

Short link: https://tinyurl.com/muj7yth9
Full link: https://www.ibanet.org/Ukrainian-legal-practitioners-visit-The-Hague-for-high-level-training-in-international-criminal-justice