news / Ukraine

CEELI Institute's Summer Law School Inspires Ukrainian Young Lawyers to Prosecute War Crimes


22 Sep 2022

On 4–15 July 2022, the CEELI Institute organized a Summer Law School open to Ukrainian law students and early-career lawyers, whether they were located in Ukraine or in other European countries. We were pleased by the enthusiastic response to this course’s announcement, although it was very difficult to select participants among almost 300 excellent applications.

Through the two weeks of the summer school, it was truly inspiring to get to know our participants, see them gain new skills and engage enthusiastically during the practical parts of the training. We were impressed by their excellent academic level and their strong commitment to the course.

The participants joined the course in Prague from various locations in Ukraine and in Europe. Many of them chose to participate in the summer school because they hoped to become involved in prosecuting war crime cases following Russia’s war in Ukraine. Anna Bykova from Uzhhorod National University recalls the beginning of the war and her endless questions while sheltering from the bombs in her basement: “For a long time, I was just asking myself: how can I help as a lawyer; is there any chance that we will be able to prosecute Russian soldiers and commanders? When I heard about the Summer School ‘Legal Skills In A Time of War’, I realized that the CEELI Institute can help me find an answer to my questions.”

Daria Rosokhata. a Ph.D. student in Law at the Ivan Franko National University of Lviv, confessed that the war made her question the effectiveness of international law, and law in general. However, thanks to colleagues and friends, she managed to find motivation and faith and continue with her studies. She says that the CEELI Institute training provided a great opportunity to participate in mock trials following a procedure similar to that of the International Criminal Court.

Anastasiia Bielchy, who graduated from the Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv and Mykolas Romeris University in Vilnius last year, shared that she had learned to “distinguish international crimes: genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression; domestic and international tribunals. We have analyzed the current situation in Ukraine and what changes are needed in our legislation.”

We were very pleased to hear how useful the training proved to our participants, and how much they appreciated the knowledge shared by our faculty. Marta Bereza, a student from the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, told us that “it was tremendous to feel the support and to discuss current events in Ukraine in the light of the law with experts in international humanitarian and criminal law. You gave me hope for the victory of Ukraine and gave me one of the best weapons in the world—knowledge.”

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