The Ukrainian Bar Association (UBA) has called on representative bodies of the legal profession worldwide to publicly condemn Russia’s recent annexation of four regions of Ukraine.
The move followed what the UBA described as “quasi-referendums” in Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia.
“Any ‘referendums’ held under the military control of the Russian Federation under the conditions of occupation cannot be considered a right to self-determination, and are legally null and void,” the Ukrainian legal organisation said.
The UBA described the annexation measures as a “gross violation of the norms of international law”, adding that they constituted an “escalation of aggression” against Ukraine.
‘Expand sanctions’ call
The lawyers’ body cited, in particular, the IV Geneva Convention on Relative to the Protection of the Civilian Population Persons in Time of War, which prohibits any physical or moral coercion against persons protected by international humanitarian law, and guarantees observance of the rights of the population in occupied territories.
It also condemned reports of the forced mobilisation of Ukrainians in the annexed territories, which it said was prohibited by article 51 IV of the Geneva Convention.
The UBA called for “decisive action” from the international community to end the war – including a significant expansion of sanctions.
It also urged the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to speed up its investigation of alleged war crimes, and called on the UN General Assembly to exclude Russia from the UN Security Council, or limit its right of veto.