She is one of the 1000 women proposed fort the Nobel Peace Price 2005.
Linked to our presentations of the Ukrainian Parliament Commission for Human Rights.
She says: “To love and protect people. To follow the dictates of my conscience and always fight for the rights of people, their honor and dignity.”
She works for the Ukrainian Parliament Commission for Human Rights; the Hope – Center for the Protection of Children’s and Women’s Rights; and the World Congress of Ukrainian Lawyers.
Nina Karpachova – Ukraine
Nina Karpachova was elected Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights in 1998. Her top priorities include safeguarding individual’s rights to a fair trial, freedom of speech, the rights of orphans, the disabled, people affected by HIV/AIDS, victims of Chernobyl, and persons deprived of liberty. She advocates for the rights of migrant workers and has taken action against trafficking in women. From early on, she boldly denounced torture and defended the right to peaceful assembly. She has been instrumental in bringing Ukraine to sign international rights conventions.
Nina Karpachova (48) was born into a family of lawyers. Her childhood and youth were spent in Kerch in Crimea. This ancient Greek colony, known as Panticapaeum, was once the capital of the Bosporus Kingdom. Here she attended secondary school, simultaneously studying piano at music school and gymnastics at a sports academy.
Her parents, Ivan Karpachov and Luisa Karpachova (deceased), were honest and fair, always ready to come to people’s aid and protect their rights and human dignity. This earned them great prestige and respect in the community. To a great extent they brought their daughter up by their personal example. Small wonder she wanted to follow in the footsteps of her parents and become a lawyer.
Upon graduating from secondary school at the age of 17, she enrolled in the law school at the Taras Shevchenko University in Kiev. She combined her first years of studies with work. For a young woman from a provincial town it was not easy to adapt to university life in the capital city. Apart from receiving excellent grades in her studies, she took an active part in the public activities of the student community.
In the 1970s, when the Helsinki Agreement set up a milestone on the road to recognizing the priority of human rights and respect for human dignity, the young student joined her inquisitive environment as an avid reader of clandestine and samizdat publications, strictly prohibited by authorities.
As a result, human rights and freedoms became the main subject of her scholarly pursuits. In 1979, after she was awarded a diploma cum laude in jurisprudence, she returned to her hometown where she took up the job of a legal consultant at a local fish cannery. In this capacity she constantly appeared in court, defending the interests of the cannery’s workforce, 80 percent of whom were women.
In 1988, Nina Karpachova went to Moscow to pursue postgraduate studies at the Academy of Social Sciences. The subject of her research for a Master of Law degree was “Political Rights of Women: Problems of Theory and Modern Practice,” and she brilliantly defended her thesis on this subject. It was the first research on women’s rights in the USSR.
In 1990, the town of Alushta (Crimea) was the venue of the Soviet Union’s first international women’s conference at the grassroots level. It drew more than 250 participants.
As a specialist in this subject, Nina Karpachova was invited by a number of American universities, in particular in Birmingham, Alabama; New Orleans, Louisiana and California. In Birmingham she was introduced to the United States civil rights movement and the activity of its champion Martin Luther King Jr. She took an active part in a protest rally against the war in Iraq launched in January 1991.
Upon completing her postgraduate course, she, as a LL.M., was extremely helpful in setting up the International Roerikhs Center in Moscow and personally drafted its constituent instruments.
After the demise of the USSR, Nina Karpachova returned to Ukraine, and started teaching as assistant professor at the State University of Simferopol, where she participated in establishing its law department. In 1994 the residents of Alushta and Sudak elected her to the Ukrainian Parliament and she was appointed Deputy Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee for Human Rights, National Minorities and Inter-Ethnic Relations.
As an MP, she was actively engaged in introducing international human rights standards to Ukraine’s national legislation. On her initiative the norms of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child were integrated into Ukraine’s laws for the first time.
Nina Karpachova sponsored a number of draft laws adopted by the Ukrainian Parliament, such as the law establishing criminal liability for trafficking in persons, the Law On the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights, Chapter on Adoption of Orphans in the Marriage and Family Code, and Chapter on Judicial Procedure for Adopting Orphans in the Code of Civil Procedure of Ukraine.
She was a coordinator for preparing for ratification the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms by the Ukrainian Parliament. At the same time, the Institute of International Relations at the Taras Shevchenko National University of Kiev invited her to teach a course in international public law. In 1997, Nina Karpachova was awarded the honorary title of Merited Lawyer of Ukraine.
Then, on 14 April 1998, she was elected as the country’s first Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights. The Commissioner exercises effectual parliamentary control over the status of observance of human rights and freedoms in the Ukraine, over compliance with the constitutional rights of citizens by bodies of state authority, local self-government and their officers, and is especially concerned with protecting the rights of destitute people. Among her many responsibilities are the protection of the rights of children and the disabled, of persons deprived of liberty, Ukrainian migrant workers abroad, ethnic minorities, and combating trafficking in persons.
Through the Commissioner’s annual and special reports read in Parliament our society is informed about the real status of observance of human rights in the country. Nina Karpachova was the first to raise public awareness fabout such issues as trafficking in persons and poverty and proved that their existence should be recognized at the government level.
She assumed a principled stand on abolishing capital punishment in Ukraine, and initiated the fight against the transnational slave trade and for Ukraine’s ratification of the UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime and the protocols to it, specifically the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, 2000. Since 1999 she chairs the National Coordination Council for the Prevention of Trafficking in Persons in Ukraine.
She raised the issue of the need for the Ukrainian Parliament and the Cabinet of Ministers to ratify the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families, 1990, the European Convention on the Legal Status of Migrant Workers, 1997, as well as the ILO Recruitment and Placement of Seafarers Convention, 1996.
One of her top priorities is to safeguard individual’s rights to a fair trial, freedom of speech, decent standards of living, protection of human honor and dignity, and counteraction against torture. Since 1996, the Commissioner has consistently defended a stipulation in the Ukrainian Constitution for the supremacy of the rules of international law over national law. In 2001, the Commissioner took part in the work of the United Nations Human Rights Committee considering the periodical report on Ukraine’s compliance with the commitments under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
By invitation from the Council of Europe, she reported, from 1999 on, as an expert on Ukraine’s legislative experience in counteracting trafficking in persons as well as abolition of capital punishment and prevention of torture in Ukraine. In the European Parliament, she was the Ukraine representative at the first conference on the status of children in Central and Eastern Europe.
It is no surprise that after her first term in office, 280 members of Parliament reelected her to this responsible post on June 2003.
As a member of a parliamentary interim ad hoc commission in 1994-1997, she dealt with the issues of regulating the political and legal situation in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and was on the Ukrainian parliamentary delegations during the talks, meetings and conferences of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) on this problem. She repeatedly headed Ukrainian government and parliamentary delegations at international human rights conferences.
In pursuit of an energetic scholarly activity, she authored over 50 papers on human rights.
Nina Karpachova’s practical and scholarly activities in the protection of human rights and freedoms earned her a number of prestigious awards: honorary title of Lawyer of the Year (1999) for her personal contribution to building new constitutional bodies of the state; the Yaroslav the Wise Prize (2002) for outstanding achievements in building a new law-governed democratic state; and the All-Ukraine Ivan Franko Prize (2003) for stoutly defending journalists against unlawful restrictions of their rights and freedoms as well as for constantly supporting them in the performance of their duties.
She has always been a staunch opponent of war and a champion for the preservation of peace. In particular, in March 1999 she publicly spoke out against the war and air strikes in Yugoslavia, and in 2003 protested the use of military force in Iraq. She appealed to the Ukrainian Parliament to adopt a decision on the immediate withdrawal of Ukrainian troops from Iraq.
One of the main areas of the Commissioner’s activity is safeguarding the rights of Ukrainian citizens abroad. Much prominence in the Ukrainian mass media was given to the detention in Iraq of two Ukrainian seamen, Ivan Soshchenko and Mykola Mazurenko, the master and chief mate of the MS Navstar-1. They were sentenced to seven years and thrown into the notorious Abu Ghraib prison where they were tortured. For over a year and a half Nina Karpachova struggled, at first, to have them returned to Ukraine, and then, after her personal participation in the defense of the seamen, to have them released by ruling of the Ukraine’s Supreme Court.
Nina Karpachova has advocated a principled stand on lifting the blockade against Cuba, arguing that such harassment actually results in mass violations of human rights.
She combines her exacting professional duties with public activity. In 1992 she was elected president of an international human rights association, Hope (Center for the Protection of Children’s and Women’s Rights), and since 1996 is vice president of the World Congress of Ukrainian Lawyers. Since 1999 she has been a member of the European and International Ombudsman Institute. Since 2003 she has been a member of the Supreme Qualification Commission of Ukrainian Lawyers. In January 2005, Nina Karpachova was elected member of the governing board of the European Ombudsman Institute.