On June 14th-15th, 2016, the Ukrainian Catholic University hosted an international training seminar entitled “International Humanitarian Law and Urban Warfare Challenges: Experiences and Lessons for Ukraine.” The event was organized as a collaboration between the Lviv Centre of International Law and Human Rights, the Rule of Law Center at the UCU, and the International Committee of the Red Cross.
The seminar was attended by about 30 participants from Ukraine, Canada, Italy, UK and other countries, hailing from various backgrounds in academia, international and non-governmental organizations, and legal fields.
Well-acclaimed Ukrainian international law lawyer and one of the top legal minds in international humanitarian law, Prof. Vasyl Repetskyy, opened the seminar by noting the importance of hosting such events and the need for further discussion regarding the topics between the academic community and practitioners in the field, including representatives of the armed forces.
The legal adviser to the International Committee of the Red Cross in Kyiv, Jan Romer, also stressed the relevance of the seminar’s topic, particularly considering the current events in Donbass. The Director of the Lviv Centre for International Law and Human Rights, Volodymyr Lysyk, expressed his gratitude to all the participants and experts for their participation in the two-day seminar.
The first day of the seminar featured two lectures by the well-respected European expert, Prof. Elizabeth Mikos-Skuza (Warsaw University, Poland), which focused on how to distinction between military and civilian targets in urban centers during warfare and sieges. Representatives of ICRC, Jan Romer and Christina Nechayeva, also presented on the practical application of international humanitarian law during urban warfare. Finally, representing the Ukrainian Armed Forces, Justice Colonel Josyp Matlay described the experiences of the armed forces in applying the legal requirements while being engaged with hostile opposition in Donbas.
A practical workshop for participants was held on the second day of the seminar. Participants worked in groups to discuss the problems arising from the legal regulation of certain aspects of warfare in populated areas and presented some potential solutions to these challenges. A follow-up discussion on all the potential solutions actively engaged all participants. The second day also featured a panel discussion about the most effective methods of disseminating information regarding the legal regulation of the hostile conduct in Ukraine and the important role of academia in such an initiative. The panel was led by Jan Romer, Prof. E. Mikos-Skuza, as well as, Ukrainian experts Oksana Senatorova (Kharkiv), Anton Korynevych (Kyiv), Dmitry Koval (Odesa), and Taras Tsymbrivskyy (Lviv).
This workshop was the biggest event to be held by the Lviv Centre for International Law and Human Rights so far. Closing the event, co-founder and board member of the ILHR, Ivan Horodyskyy, noted that there are plans to hold similar events on a regular basis and preparations for the next event have already begun.