The Webinar “Universal Jurisdiction over Atrocities: What Should Ukraine Know about This Tool?”

27April 2021

The webinar ” Universal Jurisdiction over Atrocities: What Should Ukraine Know about This Tool?” (27 April, 18:30 – 20:00 EET). 

It is often said that the Yazidi survivors of the crimes of the so called Islamic State (ISIL) or victims of mass atrocities in the contexts like Belarus or Syria have little prospect of facing justice with their domestic courts being ineffective or unavailable and international courts being unable to intervene. 

At the same time, a German court made waves in February 2021, by convicting a Syrian secret service officer for torture as a crime against humanity. The proceedings were based on the principle of universal jurisdiction, which provides jurisdiction to national courts over certain grave crimes even when the crimes did not occur on that state’s territory, and when neither victim nor perpetrator is a national of the state where the crime is being prosecuted. This is due to the appalling nature of the crimes concerned and the threats they and the lack of their prosecution poses to an international rule-based order.

With Russia’s occupation of Crimea and support of their proxies in eastern Ukraine, having marked eight years, the Ukrainian Government has pursued a variety of accountability avenues in domestic, regional and international courts. However, as many alleged perpetrators are out of reach of Ukraine’s agencies and since international trials might take years, Ukraine also levies its hope for justice on other states and the proceedings they might open into Crimean and Donbas contexts on the basis of universal jurisdiction. 

The experts will discuss the evolution, relevance  and current dynamics of universal jurisdiction cases, how they correlate with other fact-finding, investigative and adjudication initiatives and whether and if Ukraine could pursue this avenue of justice.



  • Almudena Bernabeu, Co-head, Guernica 37 International Justice Chambers;
  • Wolfgang Kaleck, General Secretary, European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights;
  • Giunduz Mamedov, Deputy Prosecutor General of Ukraine, Head of the Department of Supervision of Criminal Proceedings concerning Crimes Committed during the Armed Conflict.


-Maria Tomak, Coordinator, Media Initiative for Human Rights;

-Dr Kateryna Busol, Lawyer, Centre for Defence Strategies.



The event will be held in English and through the Zoom platform, simultaneous translation into Ukrainian will be provided.

If you would like to participate in the discussion and/or send your questions and comments to the Zoom chat, please register here:

You can also follow the webinar on other platforms. The original English discussion will be broadcasted on the YouTube page of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union: The Ukrainian translation of the discussion will be broadcasted on the Facebook pages of the organisers:,



-Media Initiative for Human Rights;

-USAID Human Rights in Action Program;

-Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union;

-Mission of the President of Ukraine in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea.


This event is a part of #InternationalLawTalks – a series of webinars aimed to facilitate qualitative, interesting and accessible discussions on the topical issues of international law in Ukraine. 

For each session, the webinars bring together distinguished professionals from Ukraine and abroad. They contextualise the armed conflict, peace and transitional justice issues in Ukraine within the larger dynamics of international law and international relations. 

The aim of the project is twofold: to help Ukrainian legal professionals and the general public see the wider horizons of their native context and to provide more local and regional insight to international colleagues.


УГСПЛ є співорганізатором заходу в рамках програми Агентства США з міжнародного розвитку (USAID) «Права людини в дії».

У світі, USAID є однією з провідних установ у сфері розвитку, яка виконує роль каталізатора цих процесів та допомагає досягати позитивних результатів. Діяльність USAID є проявом доброчинності американського народу, а також підтримує просування країн-отримувачів допомоги до самостійності та стійкості та сприяє забезпеченню національної безпеки та економічного добробуту США. Партнерські стосунки з Україною USAID підтримує з 1992 року; за цей час, загальна вартість допомоги, наданої Україні з боку Агентства, склала понад 3 млрд. доларів США. До поточних стратегічних пріоритетів діяльності USAID в Україні належать зміцнення демократії та механізмів досконалого врядування, сприяння економічному розвитку та енергетичній безпеці, вдосконалення систем охорони здоров’я та пом’якшення наслідків конфлікту у східних регіонах. Для того, щоб отримати додаткову інформацію про діяльність USAID, просимо Вас звертатися до Відділу зв’язків з громадськістю Місії USAID в Україні за тел. (+38 044) 521-57-53. Також пропонуємо завітати на наш вебсайт:, або на сторінку у Фейсбук:

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