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Orwellian Rulings of the Russian Constitutional Court on the Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia Provinces of Ukraine

With its historical denialism, Newspeak and propaganda, Russia’s aggression against Ukraine has given new life to George Orwell’s evocation of how political language can be used to obscure or misrepresent reality. Does the same hold true for legal language? On 30 September 2022, following the illegal pseudo-referenda organised by Russia in the occupied areas of the Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia provinces of Ukraine, President Putin attempted to illegally annex these provinces by signing four treaties with the Russian-installed governors. In accordance with the national legislation on the admission of a new subject to Russia (see here and here), the Russian Constitutional Court (hereinafter, the RCC) was requested to check the constitutionality of the treaties in question. On 2 October 2022, the RCC speedwise ruled that they were in line with the Russian Constitution. On 3-4 October 2022, the Federal Assembly ratified them. My blog post provides a brief analysis of the RCC’s reasoning, which was identical in all four rulings (see…

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To Perfect the Imperfect Title: How Referenda were Historically Manipulated to Justify Territorial Conquest by Nations

Since the 23rd September 2022, Russia organized referenda in the occupied Ukrainian regions of Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia, and Kherson. On 30 September 2022, after declaring that the results were predominantly ‘in favor’ of joining Russia, Russia officially annexed the four Ukrainian regions. This was another attempt by Russia to justify the annexation…

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Western Sahara before the African Court of Human and Peoples’ Rights:  Is there a “brother’s keeper” obligation for the Member States of the African Union?

In the current international context where States are ‘(re)discovering’ the virtue of international judicial litigation tools (before the ICJ or before the European Court of Human Rights), the African Court of Human and Peoples’ Rights was presented with a unique request against the backdrop of protecting the right to self-determination of the Sahrawi people. The latter…

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Remedial Peoplehood: Russia’s New Theory on Self-Determination in International Law and its Ramifications beyond Ukraine

The evolution of samoopredelenie or self-determination dates back to the early 20th century when these terms were used by the Russian Bolsheviks and the West respectively to advance ideological and political objectives. Now once again the concept of self-determination and its subject, i.e., people, have been variously invoked to justify support for the people of Ukraine writ large,…

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Tonight President Putin gave a long televised speech announcing the Russian Federation’s recognition of the separatist Donetsk and Luhansk republics in Eastern Ukraine as independent states. He also announced the signing of treaties of friendship and assistance with the two supposed newly independent states. This probably took place earlier in the…

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