Article: The International Bar Association and Ukraine: a year of collaboration


As an organisation at the forefront of promoting and protecting the rule of law and international justice, the IBA has had a duty to support Ukraine and its legal profession, institutions, infrastructure and population as a whole since the start of the Russia–Ukraine war in February 2022.

At that time, IBA Executive Director Mark Ellis swiftly initiated the Association’s response to the crisis and set out a plan for delivering assistance to Ukraine.

At the outbreak of war, the IBA immediately issued a press release. ‘The IBA publicly condemned Russia’s breach of the most sacred principle of international law – sovereign integrity – on the sad 24 February 2022’, says IBA President Almudena Arpón de Mendívil. ‘Supporting Ukraine on all legal fronts has been a priority for the IBA since then, and will remain so until the illegal actions of Russia in Ukraine’s territory end.’

‘Beyond public statements, the IBA has focused its efforts in three areas: aiding Ukraine’s legal profession; helping to support accountability of any crime against humanity perpetrated during the war with the IBA app eyeWitness to Atrocities; and cooperating with Ukraine regarding its compliance with international legal standards in domestic trials related to war crimes’, she explains.

The IBA and IBAHRI have been involved in many different initiatives in the past year. In addition, the Association has endeavoured to inform its membership and beyond on varied aspects of the conflict and related matters through regular features, articles, podcasts and webinars.

Ukrainian bars and the legal profession

In early 2022, the IBA expressed solidarity with IBA members and lawyers in Ukraine, and the Ukrainian bars, subsequently strengthening ties with the Ukrainian National Bar Association and the Ukrainian Bar Association. The IBA has assisted them with financial contributions in support of their humanitarian efforts and bar running costs.

Given its considerable experience in training lawyers, it was logical for the IBA to undertake training for those lawyers who will be involved in defending the accused in national war crimes trials, as well as providing further training on international criminal law during 2022. Several popular sessions took place online.

In August 2022, the International Legal Assistance Consortium – of which the IBA is a founding organisation – announced the publication of a new report, with research contributed by the IBA, on the impact of the Russia–Ukraine conflict on the Ukrainian justice system.



The International Bar Association and Ukraine: a year of collaboration