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Oleksandra Matviichuk, Ukraine’s Nobel Peace Prize winner, to speak at Cambridge Union





Oleksandra Matviichuk, the Ukrainian Nobel Peace Prize winner, is due in the city for a talk at the Cambridge Union.

The renowned human rights lawyer will deliver the annual (since 2003) Stasiuk Lecture in Contemporary Ukrainian Studies on the topic Normalisation of Evil: How to Defend Humanity and Human Rights in the 21st century.

Oleksandra Matviichuk, the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize winner, is due to give a talk at the Cambridge Union on 2 February, 2024. Picture: Right Livelihood Award
Oleksandra Matviichuk, the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize winner, is due to give a talk at the Cambridge Union on 2 February, 2024. Picture: Right Livelihood Award

Named one of the Top 25 Most Influential Women in the World by the Financial Times, Oleksandra leads the Center for Civil Liberties (CCL) in Kyiv. She founded the Center in 2007 with the purpose of pressuring Ukraine's government to make the country more democratic. In 2014 Russia annexed the Crimea and also began a conflict in the Donbas, and the CCL began documenting political persecution in Crimea and crimes in the Donbas territory controlled by the Russian-backed separatists.

After the Russian invaded Ukraine in February 2022, the CCL also began documenting Russian war crimes in Ukraine. Later that year the Norwegian Nobel Committee said that the organisation was "playing a pioneering role in holding guilty parties accountable for their crimes”.

Oleksandra Matviichuk, Nobel Peace Prize winner Picture: Right Livelihood Award
Oleksandra Matviichuk, Nobel Peace Prize winner Picture: Right Livelihood Award

The CCL has become a leading voices for civil rights in Ukraine, influencing the formation of public opinion and public policy, supporting the development of civic activism, and participating in international networks and solidarity actions to promote human rights in the OSCE (Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe).

The Cambridge Union event has been organised by Cambridge Ukrainian Studies and Centre for Geopolitics, with the support of the Cambridge Union and Cambridge University Ukrainian Society.

Event organiser Andrii Smytsniuk, senior teaching associate at the Slavonic Section at the University of Cambridge, said: “It is a great privilege for us to host Ms Oleksandra Matviichuk. The people of Cambridge could benefit a lot by learning the Ukrainian perspective on human rights.”

Andrii Smytsniuk, Cambridge University Ukrainian Society
Andrii Smytsniuk, Cambridge University Ukrainian Society

Oleksandra and the CCL team were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2022, becoming the first Ukrainian citizens to receive any Nobel award. Born in Boyarka on the outskirts of Kyiv to a teacher and a doctor, she has described her family life as “destitute, but I had a happy childhood: my parents showered me with their love, and that’s the most important thing for a child”. She graduated from the Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv in 2007, when she was conferred a Master of Laws. In 2017, she became the first woman to participate in the Ukrainian Emerging Leaders Program at Stanford University.

Ms Matviichuk told the Cambridge Independent: “We are living in a period of turbulence. Wars will occur more frequently because the wiring for international cooperation is faulty and sparking everywhere. Unpunished evil grows. Authoritarian regimes are uniting. In such times, the role of people who think and act in terms of freedom and responsibility becomes more significant.”

A spokesperson for the Centre for Geopolitics said: “The Centre for Geopolitics is delighted to welcome Ms Oleksandra Matviichuk to Cambridge.

“Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine has resulted in major geopolitical challenges for the region. Ms Matviichuk has drawn attention to the need for justice for the Ukrainian population in response to Russian war crimes and human rights violations. We look forward to what promises to be an enlightening lecture by such an eminent figure, and we thank our co-event sponsors for making Ms Matviichuk’s visit possible.”

The talk takes place at the Cambridge Union at 5.30pm on Friday, 2 February and marks the third anniversary of the full-scale invasion and the tenth anniversary of the annexation of Crimea. No registration is required: the lecture is open to everyone and will be followed by a Q&A session.



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