Solidarity and Enlightened Self-Interest in International Law: Lessons Learned from Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine

Reflections from the 51st Annual Conference of the Canadian Council of International (October 27-28, 2022, Ottawa)

By: Idil Atak, Jennifer Orange, Uchechukwu Ngwaba, Hilary Evans Cameron

I          Introduction (Idil Atak)

Our panel was entitled “Solidarity and Enlightened Self Interest in International Law: Lessons Learned from Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine”. We explored the topic from the perspective of three different legal areas: the protection of cultural heritage, the right to health, and refugee protection. The common thread running through our presentations is the importance of human rights for peace and justice. 

I would like to take a moment to talk about an opinion piece by Dr. Chile Eboe-Osuji, a former judge and President of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, published in the Canadian Review of International Law and Policy (CRILP) Blog launched in October 2022. Dr. Eboe-Osuji argues that the invasion of Ukraine occurred partly because the international community has not managed to make wars of aggression sufficiently risky for the world’s warlords. According to him, the solution involves enhancing the risk of criminal prosecution for the crime of aggression – which would involve the amendment of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. The second concrete suggestion by Dr. Eboe-Osuji is to enhance personal civil liability for warlords through a new international treaty that would establish peace as an actionable fundamental human right. In his opinion piece, Dr. Eboe-Osuji also addresses the objections to recognizing the right to peace and explains, for instance, how such a right would not impede the right of States to self-defence. This forward-looking piece outlines concrete suggestions to deter and punish wars of aggression while emphasizing the importance of international law in achieving peace and justice. Read more.