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Thu, Oct 5, 2023 4:30pm - 6:30pm
Moot Court Room
Conference: War Crimes in Ukraine: The Abduction and Deportation of Children

This Conference will address the ongoing war in Ukraine with a particular focus on the war crime of abduction and deportation of Ukrainian children by the Russian authorities. Over the past year, Russian authorities have willfully separated Ukrainian children from their families and have orchestrated a policy whereby such children are adopted by Russian families. The forcible abduction and deportation of children is a war crime under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court; moreover, it is also illegal under customary international law and can amount to genocide, if committed with the intent to destroy a particular national, ethnic, racial or religious group.  The International Criminal Court has already issued arrest warrants against Russian President Vladimir Putin and Maria Lvova-Belova, Russian Commissioner for Children’s Rights, alleging their responsibility for the unlawful transfer of children during the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The Conference will focus on the ongoing International Criminal Court’s investigation into the war crime of abducting and deporting children, as well as on other relevant international law issues related to imposing accountability on Putin or Lvova-Belova. Moreover, the Conference will discuss military ethical issues associated with the abduction and deportation of children. The Conference will feature several prominent live speakers, as well as pre-recorded remarks by Ukrainian experts. 

The Conference will be followed by a live auction, musical entertainment, as well as food and refreshments in the law school Atrium.

Cost is Free; registration is requested



  • Welcome: Dean Lee Fisher, CSU College of Law
  • Moderator: Professor Milena Sterio, CSU College of Law
  • Keynote Speaker: Ambassador Stephen Rapp
  • Panelists: Dean Michael Scharf (CWRU School of Law); Mykola Kuleba; Roman Sheremeta; Ambassador Clint Williamson

CLE Credit (pending)

The Conference is co-sponsored by the Cleveland Council on World Affairs , Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association, and The City Club of Cleveland.

Speaker Biographies:

headshot of Mykola Kuleba
Mykola Kuleba

Mykola Kuleba is a Ukrainian social and political activist who founded and headed the charity organization, "Open Heart." During five years of work in this organization, he created a model of rehabilitation of street children and opened a network of specialized centers for work with street children. Then, in 2006, Mykola Kuleba was the head of the Children's Service of the Kyiv City State Administration, where he formed the capital's policy regarding the protection of children's rights, implemented a number of city children's programs, developed family forms of raising orphans and preventive work with families in difficult life circumstances. In 2014 he was appointed the Commissioner of the President of Ukraine for Children's Rights, and then went on to serve as Ombudsman for Children with the President of Ukraine (2014-2021). 

headshot of Stephen Rapp
Stephen Rapp

From 2009 to 2015, Ambassador Stephen J. Rapp served as the U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues, heading the Office of Global Criminal Justice in the U.S. Department of State. Appointed by President Obama, he was confirmed by the Senate, and assumed his duties on September 8, 2009. Prior to his appointment, he served as Prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone beginning in January 2007, leading the prosecutions of former Liberian President Charles Taylor and other persons alleged to bear the greatest responsibility for the atrocities committed during the civil war in Sierra Leone. During his tenure, his office achieved the first convictions in history for sexual slavery and forced marriage as crimes against humanity, and for attacks on peacekeepers and for recruitment and use of child soldiers as violations of international humanitarian law.

From 2001 to 2007, Mr. Rapp served as Senior Trial Attorney and Chief of Prosecutions at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, personally heading the trial team that achieved convictions of the principals of RTLM radio and Kangura newspaper—the first in history for leaders of the mass media for the crime of direct and public incitement to commit genocide.

Mr. Rapp was United States Attorney in the Northern District of Iowa from 1993 to 2001, where his office won historic convictions under the firearms provision of the Violence Against Women Act and the serious violent offender provision of the 1994 Crime Act. Prior to his tenure as U.S. Attorney, he worked as an attorney in private practice and served as Staff Director of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency and as an elected member of the Iowa Legislature. He received his BA degree from Harvard College, and attended Columbia and Drake Law Schools and received his JD degree from Drake.

Michael Scharf
Michael Scharf

Michael Scharf has been Co-Dean of Case Western Reserve University School of Law since 2013. He is also the Joseph C. Hostetler—BakerHostetler Professor of Law and serves as Managing Director of the Public International Law & Policy Group, a Nobel Peace Prize-nominated NGO.

Before becoming a law professor 30 years ago, Scharf served in the Office of the Legal Adviser of the U.S. Department of State, where he held the positions of Attorney-Adviser for Law Enforcement and Intelligence, Attorney-Adviser for United Nations Affairs and delegate to the United Nations Human Rights Commission.

In 2004, Scharf trained the judges for the trial of Saddam Hussein and during a sabbatical in 2008, he served as Special Assistant to the Prosecutor of the Cambodia Genocide Tribunal.  In February 2022, Scharf presented an Amicus Argument before the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Court in The Hague on the question of who has the burden of proof on the insanity defense in a case involving a former child soldier.

Scharf is the author of 20 books, five of which have won national book of the year honors. A recipient of the Case Western Reserve University School of Law Alumni Association's "Distinguished Teacher Award" and Ohio Magazine's "Excellence in Education Award," Scharf continues to teach International Law and was ranked as among the most cited authors in the field since 2010 by the Sisk/Leiter study.

Since 2011, Scharf has been the producer and host of "Talking Foreign Policy," a radio program broadcast on Cleveland’s NPR station and other NPR affiliates across the country, which is also available as a podcast. In 2019 Scharf was selected for life membership in the Council on Foreign Relations, in 2020 he was elected President of the American Branch of the International Law Association, and in 2021 he was elected to the Executive Council of the American Society of International Law.

headshot of Roman Shermeta
Roman Sheremeta

Roman Sheremeta, Ph.D., is a founding director of American University Kyiv and a professor of economics at the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University. 

He holds a Ph.D. in economics from Purdue University and is a recipient of many research and teaching awards, including the 2018 Smith Ascending Scholar Prize, as well as multiple grants, including the National Science Foundation and the Max Planck Institute grants. Sheremeta was listed as a Top Economic Thinker of Ukrainian descent by Forbes in 2015, a top-rated young economist in the world according to the IDEAS ranking in 2018, and recognized as the Best 40 Under 40 Professors by Poets and Quants in 2019. 

Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Sheremeta has been actively involved in delivering humanitarian aid to Ukraine and working on various initiatives to rebuild Ukraine, including the National Recovery Council, an advisory board to the President of Ukraine. He is a Co-Chair of Ukrainian-American House and a Founding Member of the Grand Founders.

Milena Sterio
Milena Sterio

Milena Sterio, the Charles R. Emrick Jr. - Calfee Halter & Griswold Professor of Law at Cleveland State University’s College of Law is a leading expert on international law, international criminal law and human rights. Sterio is one of six permanent editors of the prestigious IntLawGrrls blog, and a frequent contributor to the blog focused on international law, policy and practice. In the spring of 2013, Sterio was selected as a Fulbright Scholar, spending the semester in Baku, Azerbaijan, at Baku State University. While in Baku, she had the opportunity to teach and conduct research on secession issues under international law related to the province of Azerbaijan, Nagorno-Karabakh. Sterio has testified before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee on accountability issues for Syria, has participated as an independent amicus expert in International Criminal Court Proceedings, and has lead a human rights documentation project with the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh.  Serving as a maritime piracy law expert, she has participated in meetings of the United Nations Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia as well as in the work of the United Nations Global Counterterrorism Forum. Sterio has also assisted piracy prosecutions in Mauritius, Kenya and the Seychelles Islands. Sterio is a member of the Executive Council of the American Society of International Law, a board member of the American Branch of International Law, and President of the U.S. Chapter of the International Penal Law Association. Sterio is a graduate of Cornell Law School and the University of Paris I, and she was an associate in the New York City firm of Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton before joining the ranks of academia full time. She has published seven books and numerous law review articles. Her latest book, “The Syrian Conflict’s Impact on International Law,” (co-authored with Paul Williams and Michael Scharf) was published by Cambridge University Press in 2020, and her upcoming book on “Ukraine and the New Global Order” is forthcoming in 2024.

CLE credit:
2.0 pending
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