Ukraine

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Are sovereignty referendums but a tool to legitimize territorial claims of the powerful?

This is the impression one could be left with in the wake of the popular votes organized by Russia in the occupied Ukrainian regions of Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk, and Zaporizhzhia. This impression might be reinforced by the fact that, as recently shown by Sze Hong Lam on these pages, these were by far not the first referendums to be (mis)used to justify the reallocation of sovereignty. Invocations of popular self-determination to legitimize annexations of territories can be traced back to the time of the French Revolution. The wider picture Considering that more than 600 referendums on sovereignty have been held across the world, it can, however, hardly come as a surprise that some of them should have been manipulated by those with the power to do so. As with any other instrument, one cannot do justice to the sovereignty referendum by focusing exclusively on its misuses. That voters are forced at gunpoint to cast their ballot is the exception, not the rule. Instead of Donetsk, Kherson,…

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Civilians are Protected Under GC IV 1949: The Illegality of Russian Filtration Camps under IHL

This piece examines the illegality of Russian filtration camps considering International Humanitarian Law (IHL). Filtration camps are set up by Russia for Ukrainian civilians implicated in Russia’s war against Ukraine. The illegality of such camps is to be presumed in IHL rules on civilian internment contained in Geneva Convention IV 1949 (GC IV). While IHL does not contain…

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Project 2100—Is the International Legal Order Fit for Purpose?

It is in the darkest moments that we must ask the hardest questions and peer through the gloom in an attempt to see the light. The events to the east of us raise stark questions—about the current world order; about the place and effectiveness of the United Nations; about what the U.S. long-term assessment of global…

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Corporate accountability and Iranian drones in the Ukraine war: Could sanctions lead to prosecutions for international crimes?

Throughout the Ukraine conflict, allegations have been made against foreign businesses for providing various types of direct or indirect support for Russia’s military attacks. Most recently, firms were placed under US sanctions on 15 November 2022 for ‘the production or ongoing transfer to Russia of Iranian unmanned aerial vehicles used by Russia [in] devastating attacks…

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Control in the context of chaos: the war in Ukraine and Russia’s jurisdiction under the ECHR

In January 2021, the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (the Court) issued its long-awaited judgment in Georgia v Russia (II) related to the armed conflict that took place between Georgia and Russia in August 2008, and the continued Russian presence in South Ossetia and Abkhazia. A contentious aspect of the Court’s judgment concerned…

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