New York State Bar Association Calls on U.N. To Investigate War Crimes in Illegal Invasion of Ukraine

By Jennifer Andrus

New York State Bar Association Calls on U.N. To Investigate War Crimes in Illegal Invasion of Ukraine

11.5.2022

By Jennifer Andrus

scott karsen ukraine

The New York State Bar Association is calling on the United Nations to investigate whether the Russian Federation and its officials violated international law in the Ukraine war. The tribunal would be similar to the courts that investigated war crimes in Sierra Leone, Rwanda and Cambodia.

The House of Delegates, the association’s governing body, voted Saturday to call for the establishment of the tribunals. On July 19, the association’s Executive Committee approved a resolution calling for an investigation into Russian war crimes. At the urging of the New York State Bar Association, the American Bar Association condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Aug. 9.

“During our nearly 150-year history, the New York State Bar Association has been a champion of the rule of law and human rights. We must make certain that justice is served,” said NYSBA President Sherry Levin Wallach.

With tensions growing between Russia and Ukraine in late 2021, NYSBA established a Ukraine chapter, partnering with the Ukrainian Bar Association. Early this year, the association’s International Section launched a task force to help collect evidence of war crimes, assist refugees, provide humanitarian relief and aid displaced lawyers.

“Every lawyer in the United States and around the globe has a stake in making sure that the rule of law is upheld in Ukraine,” said Scott M. Karson, a past president of the association and co-chair of the Ukraine Task Force along with Serhiy Hoshovsky. “We must hold leaders and soldiers accountable for war crimes.”

Anna Orgenchuk, chair of NYSBA’s Ukraine chapter and president of the Ukrainian Bar Association, has seen the devastating impact of the invasion on her homeland.

“This is one of the challenges we as international lawyers encounter — to leave no immoral and unlawful deed legally unpunished,” Orgenchuk said. “With the support of NYSBA experts, we believe we can show to international judicial institutions the scale and depth of Russia’s crimes in Ukraine. I strongly believe that the future of not only Ukraine but of Western civilization depends on our success in bringing perpetrators to justice.”

The New York State Bar Association has a long history of standing up for the rule of law both in the United States and internationally. In 1896, the association proposed the creation of a global court to settle disputes among nations. That court is now called the Permanent Court of Arbitration at the Hague. In 1992, the association called for the creation of the International Criminal Court, which was established in 1998. Its purpose is to investigate and prosecute war criminals. The court prosecuted leaders from 17 nations including the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Darfur, Sudan and Uganda.

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