President of Ukraine

The second meeting of the Bring Kids Back UA International Task Force took place

22 February 2024 - 13:36

The second meeting of the Bring Kids Back UA International Task Force, co-chaired by Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine Andriy Yermak and Director of the International Bar Association's Human Rights Institute Baroness Helena Kennedy, was held in the format of a video conference.

The Baroness moderated the meeting, which focused on the exchange of information to deepen the knowledge of the members of the International Task Force on the circumstances and conditions of the deportation and forced displacement of Ukrainian children. The meeting featured private presentations of the most comprehensive reports to date on child abductions and Russia's policy of adoption, passportization, indoctrination and militarization of Ukrainian children. This allowed the group members to agree on a common understanding of the deportation and return of Ukrainian children in order to further develop mechanisms for their return.

For example, Dr. Elina Steinert, an expert of the OSCE Moscow Mechanism, presented the findings of the Report on Violations and Non-Compliance with International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law, War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity Related to the Forced Displacement and/or Deportation of Ukrainian Children to the Russian Federation. Executive Director of the Humanitarian Research Lab at the Yale School of Public Health Nathaniel Raymond presented the findings of the Conflict Observatory in two reports: "Russia's Systemic Program for the Re-education and Adoption of Ukrainian Children" and "Belarus' Cooperation with Russia in the Systematic Deportation of Ukrainian Children".

After the presentations, Baroness Helena Kennedy said: "The findings we have heard today reflect serious violations of international law that must stop immediately. I commend the crucial work of the OSCE Moscow Mechanism and the Yale Humanitarian Research Lab for highlighting these critical issues. We must remain steadfast in our commitment to reunite Ukrainian children with their families and their communities."

Established as part of the Presidential initiative Bring Kids Back UA, the International Task Force engages independent experts to develop mechanisms for the return of thousands of Ukrainian children illegally deported to Russia or forcibly transferred to the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine.

The meeting was attended by: Professor, Emily & Ernest Woodruff Chair in International Law, Co-Director at the Dean Rusk International Law Center at the University of Georgia School of Law, former Special Advisor to the ICC Prosecutor for Children Affected by Armed Conflict, Diane Marie Amann; Secretary General of the Global Campus of Human Rights, Professor for International Law and Human Rights at the University of Vienna, former independent expert who led the UN Global Study on Children Deprived of Liberty, former UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Professor J. Manfred Nowak; Executive Director of the Dallaire Institute for Children, Peace and Security Shelly Whitman; Executive Director of the Georgetown University Collaborative on Global Children's Issues Gillian Huebner; Director of the Department of International and Constitutional Affairs of the Polish Commissioner for Children's Rights Agata Jasztal; former Polish Commissioner for Children's Rights Mikołaj Pawlak; Conflict & Humanitarian Policy and Advocacy Adviser at Save the Children UK Narmina Strishenets; Executive Director of the Ukraine Bureau at Global Affairs Canada Kati Csaba; Senior Child Protection Adviser, Member of the NATO Human Security Group Alec Wargo; Senior Advisor on Foreign Affairs, Head of the Support Group for Ukraine at the European Policy Center Roxana Cristescu; Senior Child Protection Advisor at Save the Children Ksenia Karagyaur; Political Advisor at the Delegation of the European Union to Ukraine Ondrej Wagner; Founder and President of Yahad-In Unum, Professor at Georgetown University Father Patrick Desbois; Senior Lecturer at the Department of International and European Law at the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy Serhiy Petukhov.

The Ukrainian side of the meeting was represented by Yuliia Usenko, Head of the Department for Protection of Children's Interests and Combating Domestic Violence of the Prosecutor General's Office, Iryna Suslova, representative of the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights, Iryna Tuliakova, Head of the Coordination Center for the Development of Family Upbringing and Child Care, and Vladyslav Vlasiuk, Advisor to the Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine.