During the press briefing held by the members of the Ukrainian Association of International Law on March 20, 2014, at the Institute of International Relations of Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv, members of the Association stated the following:
– “Reformatting of the government” in Ukraine has been fully legal and took place as a result of Mr. Yanukovych’s failure to stand by the agreement signed on February 21, 2014, through his dissociation/disappearance; the appointment of an acting President and the election of the Government was performed in accordance with the Constitution of Ukraine of December 8, 2004.
– The Russian Federation has committed an act of aggression against Ukraine and occupied the territory of Ukraine in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, violating the fundamental principles of international law set out in the UN Charter as well as in other universal, regional and local rules of the international law.
– Despite the absence of active hostilities so far, the fact of belligerent occupation of the territory of Ukraine by the Russian Federation is a clear indication of the existence of an international armed conflict. Therefore, the entire body of international humanitarian law and, in particular, the Fourth Geneva Convention of August 12, 1949, imposes responsibility for adhering to international obligations in terms of protecting the civilians on the occupying power, which makes the Russian Federation responsible for all the violations of the international obligations concerning human rights protection in the occupied territory.
– There is no such notion as “the people of Crimea” as the residents of Crimea do not fall within the definition of “people” in international law. Hence, attempts to justify either the aggression or the occupation by the Russian Federation on the grounds of “self-determination of the people of Crimea” has no legal basis whatsoever.
– According to international law (in particular to the 2006 United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples) indigenous people of Crimea are Crimean Tatars.
– The 1994 Budapest Memorandum was an additional guarantee of Ukraine’s security afforded to Ukraine on the condition of its decision to become a non-nuclear state and to join the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. Such a guarantee is complementary to the universal and customary international law guarantees of the security of states. The Memorandum, however, cannot be treated as a collective security treaty for Ukraine, which makes signing such a treaty a priority task for Ukraine’s foreign policy.
– The right of the Russian Federation to act as “the only legal successor to the USSR” in terms of the USSR rights and obligations as a permanent member of the UN Security Council is highly questionable. The states which agreed to that in 1992, including Ukraine, Georgia and Azerbaijan, have good legal and factual grounds to denounce such an agreement.
– The rights of Ukrainian citizens in the territory of occupied Autonomous Republic of Crimea should receive special protection according to treaty and customary international humanitarian law and international human rights law. This should be taken into consideration during the revision of the draft law on the citizens’ rights in the temporarily occupied territory of Ukraine in its preparation to the second reading in the Parliament.
The participants of the briefing were: Oleksandr Zadorozhniy, Mykhailo Buromenskyi, Vsevolod Mitsik, Borys Babin, Olga Butkevych, Mykola Gnatovskyy, Sergii Koziakov, Dmytro Kuleba, Svitlana Melnyk.