EJIL Analysis

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The Destruction of the Nova Kakhovka Dam and International Humanitarian Law: Some Preliminary Thoughts

This morning the Nova Kakhovka dam in Ukraine was destroyed, in circumstances which remain unclear. Thousands of people are in peril, while the devastation of downstream communities and the environment will be immense. The dam appears to have collapsed, and the reservoir behind it is now draining at speed. In this post I will just briefly set out the relevant framework of international humanitarian law regarding attacks against dams, and how it applies to the facts as we know them. Last year my friend and colleague Mike Schmitt wrote up two very detailed posts on the rules governing attacks on dams on Articles of War, and I will direct readers to those posts for a more detailed examination of these rules (here and here). (1) Attribution – as things stand it is not yet clear who destroyed the dam. Ukraine is accusing Russia of having done so, while Russia is accusing Ukraine. While all communities affected are on Ukrainian sovereign territory, many of them are in those…

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Two Weeks in Review, 22 May – 4 June 2023

In his post, 'Ukraine’s Involvement in Cross-Border Raids by Russian Paramilitary Groups: Illegal Use of Force and Intervention or Lawful Self-Defence?', Stefan Talmon explores the legality and classification of the 22 May 2023, cross-border raids from Ukraine into Russia. The raid was conducted by two Russian paramilitary groups and raise a searies…

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France’s Highest Court Confirms Universal Jurisdiction

In November 2021, the Criminal Chamber of the French Cour de cassation, shocked the international criminal law community (see here and here) by considering that French courts did not have jurisdiction over crimes against humanity committed in Syria because Syria was not party to the Rome Statute and did…

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Summit of Fire and Ice 4th: Council of Europe Summit, Reykjavík

Iceland is known as “the land of fire and ice.”  Its dramatic volcanoes are constantly and rapidly shaping a new complexion in the north-west European island state, whilst its seemingly unchanging glaciers slowly and stubbornly carve through the landscape. Fire and ice are words that also come to mind when one reflects on the historic…

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Ukraine’s Involvement in Cross-Border Raids by Russian Paramilitary Groups: Illegal Use of Force and Intervention or Lawful Self-Defence?

On 22 May 2023, two Russian paramilitary groups – the Liberty of Russia Legion (LSR) and the Russian Volunteer Corps (RDK) – conducted a cross-border raid from Ukrainian territory into the Belgorod region of Russia. After briefly ‘liberating’ some border villages, the fighters were forced to retreat on to Ukrainian territory again. This was not the first such…

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