KYIV — January 24, 2023. The International Section of the New York State Bar Association (NYSBA) gave its highest honor — the Distinction in International Law Award — to Anna Ogrenchuk, President of the Ukrainian Bar Association (UBA), chair of the NYSBA chapter in Ukraine. The Distinction in International Law Award is given annually to those representatives of the international legal community who have demonstrated a commitment to the profession and the rule of law.
The award ceremony took place on January 23 in New York City as part of the NYSBA’s Annual Meeting. Anna Ogrenchuk took part in the ceremony remotely. She thanked the NYSBA team for working together to develop mechanisms to bring those responsible for Russian aggression against Ukraine to justice, and damages mechanisms, as well as providing legal assistance to Ukrainian refugees. The UBA President separately thanked foreign colleagues for supporting Ukrainian lawyers.
“It is our joint work that brought results. This is why this award belongs to courageous men and women — attorneys, judges, prosecutors, notaries, and so many others — who united against aggressors and use the law as their weapon. It belongs to Ukrainian and foreign lawyers who, in the face of the most outrageous international crimes, showed solidarity, unity and remained humans”, Anna Ogrenchuk said in her speech.
The UBA President noted that the world legal community, in particular international judicial institutions, is currently taking measures to punish those guilty of Russian aggression and war crimes committed on the Ukraine’s territory in the future. At the same time, she stated that the existing system of international law failed both to prevent the war and to stop it, therefore it has to change fundamentally.
“Preventive mechanisms have to be reviewed and improved, as well as the UN Security Council mandate. The regulatory framework of public international law has to evolve so that to address ecocide, cyber-attacks, the use of mercenaries and other irregular forces, and other new modalities of war. The mandate of the ICC has to be improved so that in the future, it could review the crime of aggression if it was to happen. A universal compensation mechanism needs to be established at the international level. It takes courage to suggest and advocate for such structural changes now. However, I am convinced that I am surrounded by like-minded people, and together we will make it happen”, Anna Ogrenchuk concluded.
In December 2021, the UBA and the International Section of NYSBA signed a memorandum of understanding, and a NYSBA chapter in Ukraine was established on the basis of the UBA. In February 2022, a NYSBA Ukraine Task Force was also established to bring together lawyers from different countries to resist the Russian aggression on the legal front and restore the rule of law in Ukraine.
In July 2022, the NYSBA became the first international legal organization to support the establishment of a tribunal to investigate war crimes committed by the Russian Federation including, but not limited to, the crime of aggression against Ukraine.