International Law and Crisis in Ukraine: A Roundtable Discussion

Recent events in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine have raised an array of challenging issues related to self-determination, secession, international intervention, and annexation. The panel aims to explore the legal and policy implications of these issues.

Note: It was recorded that no representative were present from the Russian Federation or from the 11 nation states that were against UN General Assembly Resolution 68/262 that was adopted on 27 March 2014, entitled “Territorial integrity of Ukraine”

In the pursuit of conducting a balanced debate on the issue of Crimea, participants were shown a video of the Republic of Nicaragua delegation providing the UN General Assembly their reasoning for voting against resolution 68/262. The main point highlighted related to the issue of self-determination. This Managua believed validated both – the referendum itself hosted in Crimea on March 16, 2014 and its outcome to join the Russian Federation.

H.E. Yuriy Sergeyev strongly posited that the referendum was illegitimate as it was inspired by Russia and the plebiscite took place while Russian soldiers occupied the peninsula. A similar view is shared by the 100 nations states that were in favour of resolution 68/262 on respecting the territorial integrity of Ukraine.

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Christopher Borgen, acting as a legal advisor on the panel, stated that Moscow’s rationale of categorizing the events, as humanitarian intervention too did not have any legal biases, as matters of intervention do not fall within the jurisdiction of the Crimean Constitution [Article 1] as granted by the parent state; Ukraine. Furthermore, he argued that even if the idea of self-determination is condoned in this scenario, it by no means gives any right to entirely dismember the state.

H.E. Ambassador Yuriy further denounced Moscow for violating the 1994 Budapest Agreement and for acting in a manner inconsistent with international law and thus “creating an imbalance in the international security environment”. As part of the agreement of ‘94, Ukraine had given up its nuclear weapons “on the basis of an explicit Russian guarantee of its territorial integrity”. However by breaching this guarantee, President Putin has undermined the foundational framework of the international order by disrespecting historical obligations that take expression in the form of treaties, pacts and agreements.

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Meeting Title:  International Law and Crisis in Ukraine: A Roundtable Discussion
Speakers: Bettina B. Plevan Proskauer Rose LLP, Chair, Council on International Affairs; Ambassador Yuriy Sergeyev, Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the United Nations; Christopher J. Borgen, Associate Dean for International Studies and Professor of Law, St. John’s University School of Law; Mark A. Meyer, Honorary Consul of the Republic of Moldova in New York, Herzfeld & Rubin, P.C.
Location: The Council on International Affairs of the New York City Bar Association
Date: 4 June 2014
Summary by WIT representative: Apurv Gupta
Edited by WIT representative: Sophia Griffiths-Mark 

 

ATT: Race to Fifty

The Arms Trade Treaty regulates the international trade of conventional arms.
It aims to promote peace and security by preventing ‘un-governed’ trade of arms in conflict regions;
prevent human rights violations; and ensure that weapons aren’t acquired by criminal groups.

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                       Today at the United Nations Headquarters, a special event marked one year of the ratification of the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) and a ceremony for newly ratified nations. Eight countries, namely: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Japan, Luxembourg, Samoa, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago ratified the ATT. Thus raising the total number of ratifications to 40, one year after the agreement was opened for signatures. The historic treaty has now been signed by 118 states and will become legally binding in international law after 50 countries ratify.

At least 500,000 people die every year on average as a result of armed violence and conflict, and millions more are displaced and abused. H.E. Mr Gary Quinlan, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Australia stated that, “by establishing, for the first time, globally-agreed standards for the regulation of the international conventional arms trade, the Arms Trade Treaty will help reduce illegal and irresponsible transfers of weapons which threaten the security of so many countries”. The ambassadors of the respective missions, hosting the event acknowledged and appreciated the commitment of the civil society in ensuring that the states remain honest in their road to the ratification of this treaty. They also urged and encouraged all states, especially those who are the biggest exporters and importers of arms to ratify the treaty.

 Meeting Title: Special event and ratification ceremony: “The Arms Trade Treaty (ATT): Approaching entry into force”
Speakers:  Permanent Missions of Australia, Austria, Belgium, Japan, Luxembourg, Samoa, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago
Location: United Nations Headquarters, Dag Hammarskjöld Auditorium (CB)
Date:  3 June 2014
Summary Written by WIT representatives:  Apurv Gupta and Aslesha Dhillon