On July 6, 2022, Russian forces carried out a missile strike that hit the H.S. Skovoroda Kharkiv National Pedagogical University in Kharkiv and reportedly killed a campus security guard.
In a speech, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky stated that the university’s main building, lecture halls, university museum, and scientific library were destroyed in the attack.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about the military targeting of university facilities in armed conflict. Parties to a conflict may only attack legitimate military targets; where a party suspects that a civilian facility — such as a university building — is being used for military purposes, that party has a duty to take every action practicable to verify that this suspicion is correct before initiating an attack. In the event of such an attack, parties must take all practicable precautions to avoid or minimize damage to civilian facilities. Further, parties must refrain from launching attacks which may be expected to cause disproportionate damage to civilian facilities.