Ukrainian law

INTERNATIONAL LEGAL SUCCESS OF UKRAINE IN 2017: FACTS AND EVENTS

29.01.2018 / 12:17
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INTERNATIONAL LEGAL SUCCESS OF UKRAINE IN 2017: FACTS AND EVENTS

2017 is full of many events in the international legal field for Ukraine. The main ones are highlighted in the material prepared statements and comments through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine. This publication is the first part of the analysis.

On January 16, 2017, Ukraine has applied to the International Court of Justice.Ukraine accuses Russia of violating two conventions, namely the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism, adopted by the General Assembly resolution of 9 December 1999, and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, adopted by the General Assembly resolution of 21 December 1965.Details are available in the publication "Terrorist Financing and Racial Discrimination in Ukraine" (Ukraine v. Russian Federation): a new case for the UN International Court of Justice".

On January 24, 2017, Resolution of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe 2141 (2017) "Attacks on Journalists and Freedom of the Media in Europe" was adopted, and a statement was made by the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović.

In the Resolution of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe 2141 (2017) "Attacks on Journalists and Freedom of the Media in Europe", emphasizing in its document on the deterioration of the situation with freedom of the press in Europe, the PACE pays special attention to the flagrant violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the occupied territories of Ukraine - both in the Crimea and in some districts of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, where, in particular, the inhibition of freedom of the media continues, and journalists remain among the most vulnerable objects for repression by the Russian occupation authorities.

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe demanded that the Russian authorities immediately release Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov and journalist Roman Sushchenko, as well as to stop the criminal prosecution of journalists Hanna Andrievska, Nataliia Kokorina and Mykola Seemeni on the occupied Crimean peninsula on fictitious allegations of "separatism". Among the facts stated in the PACE resolution are the deterioration of the situation in the area of freedom caused by the actions of the occupying powers, in particular, the closure of the channel ATR and other Crimean Tatar mass media.

In his statement, OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović also condemned the repressive practices of the occupation regime in the Crimea and the Donbass. In particular, she has been criticized for restricting access to information, pluralism of opinion and worsening the security situation of journalists. We fully share the opinion expressed by Dunja Mijatović concerning the case of Mykola Seemeni about the inadmissibility of persecuting a journalist for expressing his thoughts and the need to remove all charges from him.

On January 25, 2017, the PACE Resolution "The Functioning of Democratic Institutions in Ukraine" was adopted. The principal provisions of resolution are that these reforms are carried out in difficult conditions due to the Russian aggression in eastern Ukraine and the illegal annexation of Crimea.

The Assembly also commends the progress made in the implementation of democratic reforms, in particular: the adoption in the final reading of constitutional amendments to the judiciary and the judicial system, which remove significant obstacles to the reform of the judiciary and comply with the standards and rules of the Council of Europe; adoption of the new Supreme Court Law; the abolition of the general supervisory function previously exercised by the Attorney General, which testifies to Ukraine's compliance with one of its commitments made at the accession to the Council of Europe; as well as the introduction of an electronic declaration system.

The Assembly also provides praised Ukraine closely with the Council of Europe, the Venice Commission and the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, for the preparation of the decentralization project on the basis of the European Charter of Local Self-Government and other relevant Council of Europe standards.

Among the steps to ensure political stability and the consolidation of democracy in the country, the Assembly emphasizes the need to continue and strengthen the fight against corruption, to reform the electoral system, and to complete the process of preparation for ratification by the Verkhovna Rada of the Istanbul Convention.

In this context, the appeal of the Assembly to all Council of Europe bodies is important for Ukraine, and to continue to provide Ukraine with the necessary expert assistance aimed at strengthening democratic institutions, to continue monitoring the situation in and around Ukraine and to take all possible measures to make the Russian Federation adhere to its obligations in accordance with international law and international obligations in order to ensure the observance of human rights in the illegally occupied Crimea and the release of all Ukrainian political prisoners and illegally detained individuals.

The anti-Ukrainian amendments were rejected by the Assembly, and the overwhelming number of amendments to the draft submitted by the Ukrainian delegation to maximally objective coverage of events in Ukraine were accepted and supported by the PACE.

On January 27, 2017, the OSCE Permanent Council on the 1130th Special Meeting approved the decision to extend the mandate of the Observer Mission to the two Russian Checkpoints Gukovo and Donetsk until April 30, 2017.

On February 16, 2017, a thematic report of the SMM "The difficult situation of the civilian population affected by the conflict in eastern Ukraine" for the period of May-September 2016 was published, which in turn confirmed the flagrant violation of the Russian agreements and rights by Russia and its illegal armed formations a person in temporarily occupied separate districts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

According to the report, as a result of bombardment by the Russian occupation forces and the illegal armed formations, numerous cases of damage or total destruction of private homes and vital infrastructure, including water supply systems, water treatment facilities, energy infrastructure, as well as communications required for their operation, were recorded.

Russian hybrid troops continued to deploy weapons and military equipment in populated areas, accompanied by the seizure of administrative buildings, using the roofs of residential buildings to accommodate fire positions, and so on.

On March 6, 2017, in the Hague, Ukraine's lawsuit against the Russian Federation, the International Court of Justice began a hearing on the application of preventive measures.

This lawsuit was filed January 16, 2017 to the International Court of Justice with a view to bringing the Russian Federation responsible for supporting terrorism in eastern Ukraine and discrimination against ethnic Ukrainian and Crimean Tatars in Crimea occupied.

The precautionary measures will allow the Court to prevent a deterioration of the situation and, most importantly, to protect the civilian population during the time required to deal with the case.

At the same time, the examination of the claim will essentially proceed independently of the decision of the Court regarding the request for the application of preventive measures.

Their application is particularly important in the context of the worsening situation in Avdiivka and the Crimea.

In the request for the application of preventive measures, Ukraine asks the Court to oblige the Russian Federation to stop the violation of international law. In particular, Ukraine appeals to the Court to oblige the Russian Federation to ensure effective control of its border, to stop supplying weapons to Ukraine, to stop the support of illegal armed groups that harm the civilian population of Ukraine, and to refrain from any further acts of ethnic discrimination in the occupied Crimea.

On March 16, 2017, the European Parliament passed resolutions on Ukrainian prisoners in Russia and the situation in the Crimea.

By this decision, the legislative body of the European Union has confirmed the undisputed support for Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity at internationally recognized borders and gave a clear signal to the Russian Federation that its attempt to annex the Crimea will never be recognized by the EU and its member states. The European Parliament has also provided comprehensive and objective evidence of the large-scale and serious crimes of the Russian occupation authorities and human rights violations.

The European Parliament has demanded that the Russian Federation immediately release all citizens of Ukraine illegally detained on the territory of the Russian Federation and the occupied Crimea, and to stop any further prosecution of Ukrainians.

European parliamentarians stressed that sanctions imposed against the state-occupier for the attempted annexation of integral parts of Ukraine may be canceled only after the restoration of sovereignty of Ukraine over the Crimean peninsula and called for expanded personal sanctions against those responsible for grave violations of human rights.

The European Parliament supported Ukraine's lawsuit against Russia in the UN International Court of Justice on Russia's responsibility for supporting terrorism in eastern Ukraine and the acts of discrimination against ethnic Ukrainians and Crimean Tatars in the territory of the occupied Crimea.

On April 6, 2017, the European Parliament approved legislative proposals regarding visa liberalization for Ukrainian citizens.

The wide support of this decision among all the leading forces of the European Parliament is recognition of Ukraine's progress in the implementation of large-scale reforms, in particular in the area of fighting corruption, ensuring human rights, border management and migration. The decision of the European Parliament is an important step towards Ukraine's integration with the EU.

On April 6, 2017, the OSCE Permanent Council at its 1141st meeting approved the decision to extend the mandate of the Observer Mission on two Russian border crossing points "Gukovo" and "Donetsk" until 31 July 2017.

OnApril 11, 2017, was approved by the Foreign Ministers of the G7 states of the Joint Communiqué, which testified to their full support for the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, as well as their determination to urge the Russian Federation to end aggression against Ukraine.

There can be no security or stability in Europe until Russia ceases to pursue a warlike foreign policy aimed at changing borders and rebuilding spheres of influence such as those that existed during the Cold War. Only full compliance with international law and the implementation of agreements can lead to a peaceful settlement of conflicts.

The Russian Federation is fully responsible for the deterioration of security and the terrible human rights situation in the occupied territories of the Donbas and the Crimea.

The position of the G7 is the condemnation of an attempt by Russia to unlawfully annex the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol, which has led to repressions, numerous human rights violations, and discrimination against Crimean Tatars and ethnic Ukrainians. Russia as an invading state must abide by its obligations under international law. In particular, it must ensure full respect for human rights in the occupied Crimea.

On April 19, 2017, the International Court of Justice adopted a decisive decision in the case Ukraine against Russia on provisional measures.

According to the judgment of the Russian Federation, the Russian Federation in the occupied Crimea has to:

-        to refrain from preserving or applying new restrictions on the rights of the Crimean Tatar community to maintain their representative institutions, including the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people.

-        to provide access to education in Ukrainian.

As regards the decision on the application of the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism, the following important elements should be noted:

- the Court confirmed the existence of a dispute between Ukraine and the Russian Federation regarding the application of the Convention;

- the Court recognized the observance by Ukraine of the necessary pre-trial procedure;

- the Court recognized the existence of its prima facie jurisdiction over this dispute.

It is also important that the Court expects from the Russian Federation and Ukraine, as parties to the Minsk process, the implementation of individual and joint measures for the full implementation of the "Complex of measures to implement the Minsk Agreements".

The court also ordered the two sides to refrain from actions that would worsen or widen the subject matter of the dispute or complicate its resolution.

The next stage is an examination of the merits, in which Ukraine will provide all necessary evidence to bring Russia to justice for violating its international legal obligations.

On May 3, 2017, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe adopted a decision on the situation in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol (Ukraine), which became the first comprehensive document of the main governing body of the Council of Europe dedicated exclusively to the Crimean problem.

The Committee of Ministers confirmed the immutability of the position regarding Ukraine's independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity within internationally recognized borders.

Condemning the illegal annexation by the Russian Federation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, which undermines peace and democratic security in Europe, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe once again emphasized that such an act on the part of the Russian Federation is a violation of international law.

It is important that the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, as the United Nations General Assembly earlier, recognized Russia's responsibility in accordance with international humanitarian law and international human rights law and called on the RF authorities to fulfill their obligations to the full.

Along with such violations of human rights as the restriction of freedom of speech and peaceful gatherings, freedom of religion and beliefs, there are repressions against national minorities, in particular Crimean Tatars. The decision of the so-called Supreme Court in the occupied Crimea regarding recognition of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people by an extremist organization and the prohibition of its activities was also caused by the condemnation of the Committee of Ministers.Consequently, the document contains a clear requirement for the Russian Federation to take all measures to ensure human rights in the Crimea, including reviewing the prohibition of the Majlis.

One of the central provisions of the Decision is the call for the unhindered access of the Council of Europe's human rights protection mechanisms, in particular its Human Rights Commissioner, to the temporarily occupied peninsula to monitor the observance of human rights in accordance with their mandate.We believe that the presence of international convention and institutional monitoring bodies in the territory of the occupied Crimea in a rapidly degrading situation with human rights is vital and urgent.

In this context, an appeal to the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, which is currently the only international institution that has made a monitoring visit to the territory of the temporarily occupied Crimea in September 2014, is important, to continue work on monitoring the situation on the peninsula.

The decision of the Committee of Ministers is one element of the integrated response of the international community to the criminal activities of the Russian Federation in Ukraine.This decision undoubtedly strengthens the position regarding Crimea, expressed last year in the GA Resolution 71/205 "Situation with the human rights in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol (Ukraine)", and it attaches the Council of Europe to the implementation of this resolution.

The document, adopted on May 3, 2017, is one of the major contributions of the Council of Europe to ensuring democratic security in Europe and defending the fundamental values and principles of the Organization - the protection of human rights, democracy and the rule of law.

On May 11, 2017, the Council of the EU approved a legislative proposal regarding the liberalization of the visa regime for the citizens of Ukraine by the European Union.This step was the last necessary formal decision on the way to visa-free entry of Ukrainian citizens into the territory of the European Union.

On May 12, 2017, the EU introduced a visa-free regime for Ukrainian citizens, which paves the way for the liberalization of the visa regime of Ukraine with about 30 states, the so-called "White Schengen list", which includes the states of Europe, North and South America, the Persian Gulf and Asia.

The visa-free regime with the EU automatically opens the way for formalizing the decision on visa-free travel for Ukrainian citizens to the so-called "white Schengen list" states.

On May 12, 2017, a meeting of the delegations of the parties to the case "Ukraine vs. Russia" was held in The Hague, under the chairmanship of the President of the Court, Ronny Abraham, who determined the timetable for further proceedings in the case.Ukraine has to submit its written memorandum by June 12, 2018; the Russian Federation has its counter-memorandum until July 12, 2019. The terms of the submission of the memorandum to Ukraine are 13 months.

On May 30, 2017, the Senate of the Netherlands approved the Draft Law on the entry into force of the law of July 8, 2015 on the approval of the Association Agreement between Ukraine and the European Union, the European Atomic Energy Community and their Member States, on the other hand, signed in Brussels on March 21 and June 27, 2014.

On June 19, 2017, the EU Council on Foreign Affairs adopted the "without discussion" decision to extend the Crimean package of sanctions against the aggressor state for 12 months.The support of the EU and partners is main thing to restoring Ukraine's territorial integrity in accordance with international law. The EU's sanctions policy and the consistent condemnation of the Kremlin's actions are one of the effective instruments of international pressure on the country-occupier.

On June 23, 2017, the UN Human Rights Council for the fourth time approved the resolution "Cooperation and Assistance to Ukraine in the Field of Human Rights".During the next two years, at each of its sessions, the UN Human Rights Council will hear the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the conclusions of his Office's report on the situation of human rights in Ukraine, with a special emphasis on the temporarily occupied territories of the Crimea and Sevastopol, as well as Donetsk and Lugansk regions.

Having approved the resolution "Cooperation and Assistance to Ukraine in the Field of Human Rights", the UN's main body in the field of human rights protection reaffirmed the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders.The document welcomes the cooperation of the Government of Ukraine with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and other international and regional human rights mechanisms, emphasizing the importance of monitoring the situation in the country, including informing about the most serious human rights problems and the causes of their occurrence.

It is important to further inform the international community about the gross violation of human rights by the Russian Federation in its temporarily occupied Crimea and the crimes of the Russian Federation and its supported militants in the Ukrainian Donbass.

Co-authors of the resolution made by 46 countries from different regions of the world (including the vast majority of EU countries, USA, Canada, Mexico, Australia, Israel, Turkey, Japan and others).Despite the apparent pressure made by the Russian delegation on the delegation of the member states of the UN Human Rights Council, the document voted 22 and only 6 against.

On June 29, 2017, it was decided to extend the economic and sectoral sanctions against the Russian Federation for the next six months, until January 31, 2018, due to the lack of progress in the implementation of the Minsk accords by Moscow.

Material prepared N. V. Hendel

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