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This Current Development Essay discusses the international legal implications of constitutional amendments adopted in the Russian Federation by an “all-Russian vote,” a quasi-referendum from June 25 to July 1, 2020. The most important of these amendments gives the Russian Constitution priority over decisions made by international courts and treaty bodies. The amendments also address Russia's state succession to the Soviet Union. Another provision protects Russia's territorial integrity. The Essay discusses the background to these amendments, their content, and their significance for international law.
Why has there been a human rights backlash in Russia despite the country having been part of the European human rights protection system since the late 1990s? To what extent does Russia implement judgments of the Strasbourg Court, and to what extent does it resist the implementation? This fascinating study investigates Russia's turbulent relationship with the European Court of Human Rights and examines whether the Strasbourg court has indeed had the effect of increasing the protection of human rights in Russia. Researchers and scholars of law and political science with a particular interest in human rights and Russia will benefit from this in-depth exploration of the background of this subject.
The United Nations Security Council is widely regarded as having legitimacy problems but there are serious disagreements about what exactly is at the root of these problems. In 1950, Hans Kelsen identified the veto power of the five permanent members (“the P5”) as the greatest likely source of future challenges to the legitimacy of the newly created UN Security Council. His quite prophetic thoughts are worth quoting here at a greater length:
The Security Council has almost the character of a governmental body. Hence the political measurements used for forms of government are applicable to it. The question of democracy and of autocracy becomes unavoidable. The veto right of the five permanent members of the Security Council, which places the privileged powers above the law of the United Nations, establishes their legal hegemony over all the other members of the Organization and thus stamps on it the mark of an autocratic or aristocratic regime. This is all the more critical as the United Nations presents itself ideologically as the crowning of a war waged for a victory not only of arms but of ideals, especially of the ideal of democracy. If the Security Council by its voting procedure was to be elevated by the rank of a government at all, only a democratic form of government, that is to say, the majority vote principle without veto rights of privileged members, was adequate … There is an open contradiction between the political ideology of the United Nations and its legal constitution. […]
The present article deals with international law problems that have arisen in the process of legal clarification of the state crimes committed during the Soviet occupation in the three Baltic states. Following the restoration of their independence in 1991, the Baltic states have sought to establish the historical truth about the mass crimes committed during the Nazi and Soviet occupations – Estonia's International History Commission recently published its first report which is analyzed in this article. Moreover, the courts in the Baltic states have convicted deporters of 1941 and 1949 for crimes against humanity and/or genocide. By discussing different definitions of ‘genocide,’ the author attempts to answer the question whether the general context of the Stalinist mass repressions in the Baltic states permits to qualify the occupant's policy as ‘genocide.’
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