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Between Conflict and Cooperation:The Politics of International Law in the post-Soviet Space

Project manager:Cindy Wittke
Project editors: Elia Bescotti, Nargiza Kilichova
Project duration: 2019—2022

Over its three-year duration, this project will explore and analyze the different—often conflicting—politics of international law in the national, regional, and international politics of states in the post-Soviet space from a comparative perspective. The starting point of the project is the observation that since 1991, all successor states of the Soviet Union have been facing the enormous challenge of formulating and implementing their own politics of international law in the course of their state-building and comprehensive transformation processes. Conflict dynamics in this region have shaped these processes. Especially as a result of the Russo-Georgian War in 2008, the annexation of Crimea, and the outbreak of violent separatist conflicts in Eastern Ukraine in 2014, the international community of states has faced challenges to the fundamental principles of international and regional legal and political order(s). These include the territorial integrity of states, the prohibition of the use of force and intervention, as well as the principle of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P).

The following questions will guide the project’s investigations:

  • Why, in what form, and to what extent is the reference to international law in the politics of the Russian Federation linked to its political and military engagement in the post-Soviet space, especially since the 2008 Russo-Georgian War?
  • What impact do these developments and practices in the Russian Federation’s politics of international law have on the sovereignty and politics of international law of other states in the post-Soviet space?
  • What similarities and differences can be identified in the politics of international law in these states?

In sum, beyond the main focus on Russia’s politics of international law, this project turns its attention to analyzing the complex dynamics of conflict as well as cooperation in the politics of international law in the post-Soviet Space since 1991, from a comparative perspective. In addition to contributing conceptual innovation and filling research gaps, the project will also produce practice-oriented legal and political research findings.

Members of the project team and their subprojects:

  • Dr. Cindy Wittke: “Contested Sovereignties in the post-Soviet Region”
  • Elia Bescotti: “Secession, Non-recognition, and Ontological Security in the post-Soviet Politics of International Law” 
  • Nargiza Kilichova: “International Democracy and Rule of Law Promotion in Central Asia and the Southern Caucasus—Spaces and Places of Struggle”

Funded by: The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)

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