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Economic Sanctions Against the Russian Federation Are Illegal under Public International Law

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In response to the Russian Federation’s purported ‘annexation’ of Crimea and the conflict between separatists in the Donbass region and the central government of Ukraine, the United States, the European Union, Japan, and Australia, the principal countries, have imposed economic sanctions upon Russian officials, firms, and private individuals. The economic sanctions imposed upon the Russian Federation violate public international law on three grounds: 1) lack of authorisation under the United Nations Charter; 2) inapplicability of Art. XXI GATT (‘Security Exceptions’); and 3) lack of legal authority based on the International Law Commission’s Draft Articles on Responsibility of States for Internationally Wrongful Acts. Fidelity to the ‘rule of law’ requires an immediate withdrawal of all economic sanctions. By contrast, the international community ‘ought to’ condemn Ukraine’s indiscriminate killing of innocent citizens living in the Donbass region and support the efforts of the Russian Federation to provide humanitarian aid to the region.

About the Author

John J.A. Burke
RISEBA University

Professor (elect) of Law,

3 Meža iela, Riga, LV-1048


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For citation:

J.A. Burke J. Economic Sanctions Against the Russian Federation Are Illegal under Public International Law. Russian Law Journal. 2015;3(3):126-141.

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ISSN 2309-8678 (Print)
ISSN 2312-3605 (Online)