Ukrainian Law Student “Summer School” – July 4-15 – Week 2

After the very successful first week, where the students gained valuable skills in working with clients and trials, the second week of the summer school focused on doctrinal international and humanitarian law for effectively administering justice in cases connected to conflict. The week had several new faculty members join us (in addition to the previous weeks faculty): Tamás Lattman (Hungary, Instructor at University of New York in Prague), Andre Parmas (Estonia, Judge at International Criminal Court), Keith Raynor (England, Barrister), and Kateryna Shyroka (Ukraine, High Anti-corruption Court). Each brought experience in human rights and war crime in both study and prosecution. The goal for the week was to give an overview and lessons for specific legal principles, which would then be used in another mock trial at the end of the week that would have a war crime focus.

Monday’s lessons were led primarily by Tamás Lattman who walked the students through how international law and justice works. The focus was to make sure the students understood the scope of international law and the multifaceted approaches that can be taken to prosecute war crimes. The rest of the day was teaching the distinction between Jus ad Bellum (criteria for when conflict can arise)  and Jus in Bello (the proper conduct parties can engage in armed conflict).

The rest of the week went more in depth on specific crimes that can arise from conflict. From what can be categorized as “War Crimes” and “Crimes Against Humanity” to specific in depth lessons on Genocide from Keith Raynor, who worked as a prosecutor in Cambodian Genocide cases, the students learned just what elements of crimes needed or be proven to succesfully hold those in power accountable for their terrible acts. Kateryna Shyroka gave a lesson in Ukrainian about Ukraine’s own courts abilities to prosecute under their domestic laws for international crimes, with key example cases given as illustration. Another big piece of the education was jurisdictional analysis, from Ukraine’s own courts to International and Internationalized courts, that Andres Parmas led a lesson on.

As a law student myself, who has a strong interest in international law, these lessons were thought provoking and a great introduction into the realm of international laws that guide and regulate conflicts. All the faculty are fantastic teachers that created interactive lessons and made very complex topics clear. The students each commented they felt they had a strong the ability to utilize the information in their future careers.

The students were also given a great surprise as Vsevolod Kniaziev, the President of the Ukraine Supreme Court, joined them over Zoom for a brief lesson and update on the ongoing conflict and its affect on the Ukraine’s judiciary. His presentation was extremely powerful and gave a strong emphasis to the mission of justice the program was built to facilitate.

At the end of the week the students were given another opportunity at a mock trial connected to a hypothetical conflict between two fictional nations. Led by the faculty as Judges the teams were 4 students each on the prosecution and defense, and they were able to connect hypothetical facts to the elements of war crimes and crimes against humanity they learned during the week.

After everything was finished, the students had a nice closing ceremony where they were given certificates for their completion of the course. They additionally gave CEELI the wonderful surprise of a Ukrainian Flag signed by all them, and a wonderful performance of a poem that they had prepared. Overall the entire two week program was a success and made my proud to work for CEELI as an organization who is promulgating justice through educational programs such as last two weeks.

Additionally, a piece of recent news CEELI received is that they have been declared an “undesirable organization” by the Russian Government, a declaration we are wearing as a badge of honor and a sign the efforts for change the organization has been putting in are having an effect. CEELI joins a prestigious list of organizations such as, People in Need, US-Russia Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, and many other organizations that have sought to promote human rights and rule of law in Russia.

Until next time — Slava Ukraini!