Episode 78 – Ukraine’s Taken Children with Yulia Ioffe and Nathaniel Raymond

In March the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant against Russian president Vladimir Putin and Childrens’s rights commissioner Maria Lvova Belova. The court suspects them of the war crimes of unlawful deportation of population and unlawful transfer of population for the transfer of children from the Russian occupied territories of Ukraine to the Russian Federation.

In this episode we talk specifically about the methods used by the Russian government for the transfer of children and what legal classifications could apply to what is happening with international law scholar Yulia Ioffe and war crimes investigator Nathaniel Raymond.

Yulia is an assistant professor of law at University College London and her article Forcibly Transferring Ukrainian Children to the Russian Federation: A Genocide? is due to come out soon in the journal of Genocide Research. A Ukrainian native, Yulia has worked for the UNCHR in Ukraine and Bosnia before she went into academia.

Nathaniel is the Executive Director of the Humanitarian Research Lab at the Yale School of Public Health and Researches mass atrocity response operations, data governance and humanitarian aid.  He is one of the authors of Yale’s Conflict Observatory’s February report Russia’s Systematic Program for the Re-education & Adoption of Ukraine’s Children.

Both Yulia and Nathaniel’s research looks at the situation after Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine on Feb 24, 2022. Soon after reports began to emerge of children from orphanages or state medical institutions being moved to Russia for “safety” and more stories emerged of children being brought to Russia or Russia controlled areas like Crimea and this got a lot of attention from war crimes investigators.

Yulia and Nathaniel talk us through their research and what has happened since the ICC’s arrest warrants. *Spoiler Alert* It’s not much.

For recommendations Yulia pointed us to the podcast #UkrainianSpaces which is all about Ukrainian identity and amplifying Ukrainian voices. She also recommended The Zelensky Effect by Olga Onuch and Henry E. Hale, a book that explores the powers and the society that shaped Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, as good read to understand Ukraine.

Nathaniel urged us to read The Justice Casdade, How Human Rights Prosecutions Are Changing World Politics by Kathryn Sikkink as somewhat of a ‘feel good’ read for human rights researchers and prosecutors that their actions do have quantifiable effects.