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Russia and Europe: International Law as Bone of Contention or Common Denominator?

This public discussion is the third event of Security and Law: A Reality Check

Relations between Russia and Europe have been gradually deteriorating over the last ten years, eventually leading to high political tensions in the past months. The political discourse is marked by mutual mistrust, accusations, and sanctions. Disputes concern in particular the application and interpretation of international law, notably regarding the UN Charter and the use of force by states: Russia condemns Western interventions in Kosovo, Iraq and Libya as violations of international law and warned of a collapse of the UN Charter-based system. Europe condemns Russia’s actions in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine as well as accuses Russia as responsible for the events in Salisbury. Finally, both accuse each other of applying double standards undermining a universal application of international law. At the same time, both sides keep underlining the importance of international law as the basis for international relations and for guaranteeing international peace, security and stability.

In this context, what role does international law play? Does international law channel and alleviate the political conflict? Or does the contest over legitimacy and legal justification of actions fuel the dispute and strain political compromise? 


Opening Address by Ms Christina Orisich, Deputy Director, GCSP



  • Prof. Dr Alexander N. Vylegzhanin, Head of the Department of International Law, Moscow State Institute of International Relations; Editor-in-Chief of the  Moscow Journal of International Law;
  • Prof. Dr Mikael Baaz, Associate Professor in International Law, Associate Professor in Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Gothenburg;
  • Dr Christian Nünlist, Senior Researcher at the Center of Security Studies (CSS) , ETH Zurich.


Tobias Vestner, Security and Law Programme, Geneva Centre for Security Policy


A light lunch will be provided before the beginning of the event



This public discussion is the third event of Security and Law: A Reality Check, the new event series to address how international law matters in security affairs. The series aims to critically assess if current norms fit contemporary and future security challenges, how international commitments can effectively be implemented, and how new international law can successfully be shaped. Reality Checks feature a new GCSP format: The audience attending the event is encouraged to steer the discussion by challenging the speakers and experts. Join the debate. Join the Reality Check.

Join the debate. Join the Reality Check.

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GCSP, Maison de la paix, Pétale 4, Chemin Eugéne-Rigot 2D, Genève

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