From Contributor to Disruptor: Russia's Approaches to International Law in the 20th and 21st centuries

With the full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022 Russia dramatically committed a crime of aggression that Soviet lawyer Aron Trainin introduced into a framework of international criminal law. A year later, following a scrutinized investigation of Russia’s war crimes in Ukraine, the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant against Vladimir Putin, charging him of an illegal transfer of children during the war – a charge which implicitly refers to a crime of a genocide. These developments present a complete reversal from previous Russian contributions to the global international law: the role of the Soviet Union in establishing the Nuremberg justice in 1945, Russia’s convening the First and the Second Hague Peace Conferences of 1899 and 1907, or the attempts of Russian émigré international lawyers, particularly André Mandelstam, to promote the idea of universal human rights in the1920s and 1930s. This course traces the evolution of Russian theories and practices of international law in the 20th century until the present time. It will consider recent legal and historiographic debates on ruptures and continuities in Russia’s legal thought, Russia’s contributions and violations of international law, as well as its political uses and abuses of international law.


Dienstags, 12 Uhr c.t. - 14 Uhr

Erste Sitzung:

Letzte Sitzung:

Adenauerallee 4-6, 53113 Bonn
Raum 3.010


  • Helmut Aust, “From Diplomat to Academic Activist: André Mandelstam and the History of Human Rights” European Journal of International Law 25:4 (2014): 1105-1121.
  • Francine Hirsch, Soviet Judgement at Nuremberg: A New History of the International Military Tribunal after the World Wat II. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2020.
  • Lauri Mälksoo, Russian Approaches to International Law. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015.
  • Michael Riepl, Russian Contributions to International Humanitarian Law: A Contrastive Analysis of Russia’s Historical Role and its Current Practice. Baden-Baden: Nomos, 2022.

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