The Webinar “Strengthening sanctions without violating human rights. Experts and Ukraine’s Government in discussion”

13October 2021

The Webinar “Strengthening sanctions without violating human rights. Experts and Ukraine’s Government in discussion”, 13 October 2021, 16:00 – 17:30 Kyiv time, Zoom.

For the next webinar in the #InternationalLawTalks series, the Media Initiative for Human Rights and the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union invited foreign experts and a representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine whose work directly involves the subject of sanctions to discuss key issues that Ukraine is facing in its attempts to develop legislative amendments on sanctions.

The need to amend the Law of Ukraine “On Sanctions” has been discussed for a few years now both at the expert and the state level. There is an inter-agency working group tasked with developing amendments to sanctions legislation, but so far there has been no news about any bills put forth by them. The last time that Ukrainian sanctions legislation was actively discussed in the public sphere was on the eve of the Crimea Platform summit. Amending the Law of Ukraine “On Sanctions” in order to enhance relevant policy is considered one of the Crimea Platform’s domestic tasks. So far there has been no comprehensive bill on amendments to the current law. At the same time, a lot of questions need to be answered first before such amendments can be developed and filed to Parliament. One of those questions is how to prevent sanctions from being lifted by courts or declared as violating human rights by the European Court of Human Rights. Furthermore: is Ukraine allowed to impose sanctions on its own citizens; what should the mechanism for monitoring compliance with sanctions and assessing their effectiveness look like; can the imposition of sanctions be complimented by the criminal or administrative proceedings against sanctioned individuals; does Ukraine need a separate body that would be responsible for sanctions policy, etc.

We will be discussing these and other issues with Ambassador Daniel Fried, one of the architects of the United States sanctions system; human rights lawyer at the London-based NGO REDRESS Megan Smith; Staff Attorney for Human Rights Accountability at the Washington-based NGO Human Rights First Scott Johnston.

The webinar will be joined by a representative of the Ukrainian government – Oleksii Makeiev, Foreign Ministry’s Special Envoy for Sanctions, who is also the co-chair of the Inter-agency working group for developing amendments to Ukraine’s sanctions legislation.


  • Maria Tomak, coordinator, Media Initiative for Human Rights;
  • Kateryna Busol, Candidate of Legal Sciences, lawyer, Centre for Defense Strategies.

A few words about the key speakers.

Daniel Fried is an American diplomat with forty-year Foreign Service experience and is well-known to Ukrainian audiences thanks to his interviews and publications on various platforms. He is currently a Weiser Family Distinguished Fellow at the Atlantic Council. On the organization’s website, they acknowledge Ambassador Fried’s major role in the development and implementation of the Western response to Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine. As Coordinator for Sanctions Policy for the U.S. Department of State, he developed the United States system of special restrictive measures against Russia after the events of 2014. It is currently the largest U.S. sanctions program to date. Ambassador Fried also negotiated for implementing similar sanctions programs by Europe, Canada, Japan and Australia. He is considered one of the leading American experts on Central and Eastern Europe as well as Russia.

Megan Smith’s work focuses on advocating for the effective use and enforcement of Magnitsky sanctions in the UK to provide accountability for human rights violations and corruption, assisting other NGOs across the world in seeking designations against perpetrators, and ensuring that the Magnitsky regime in the UK is implemented in a way which protects and advances human rights.

Scott Johnston manages the work of Human Rights First’s Human Rights Sanctions and Accountability Coalition, a group of over 150 NGOs using the Global Magnitsky Act to create accountability for serious human rights abuses and corruption perpetrated by bad actors around the world. His role includes training coalition members regarding human rights sanctions, consulting with them on advocacy opportunities relevant to their work, assisting in crafting evidence into dossiers, and liaising with the federal government on enforcement.


The event will be held via Zoom, in English, with simultaneous translation to Ukrainian.

The Ukrainian version of the discussion will also be streaming on the organizers’ Facebook pages:, The English version will be streaming on the YouTube channel of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union:


Media Initiative for Human Rights
USAID Human Rights in Action Program
Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union

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This discussion is part of #InternationalLawTalks – a series of webinars meant to cultivate high-quality, engaging and digestible analytics on important issues of international law in Ukraine’s public space.

These webinars bring together Ukrainian and foreign experts. They contextualize issues related to the armed conflict, reconciliation and transitional justice in Ukraine against the big picture of modern-day international law and international relations.

The project helps Ukrainian lawyers and general public to broaden their horizons when it comes to international law, as well as promotes a more nuanced understanding of the current situation in Ukraine and the region among foreign experts.


USAID is the world’s premier international development agency and a catalytic actor driving development results. USAID’s work demonstrates American generosity, and promotes a path to recipient self-reliance and resilience, and advances U.S. national security and economic prosperity. USAID has partnered with Ukraine since 1992, providing more than $3 billion in assistance. USAID’s current strategic priorities include strengthening democracy and good governance, promoting economic development and energy security, improving health care systems, and mitigating the effects of the conflict in the east. 

For additional information about USAID in Ukraine, please call USAID’s Development Outreach and Communications Office at: +38 (044) 521-57–53. You may also visit our website: or our Facebook page at

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