By Thomas D. Grant (auth.)
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Extra info for Aggression against Ukraine: Territory, Responsibility, and International Law
23 Questions of precedent thus are questions of comparison. It is impossible to say whether an act is a precedent unless one reaches a judgment as to whether the act and a subsequent act that one seeks to justify are comparable in a legally meaningful way. Lawyers earn a bad reputation for making fine distinctions that do not sound in the layperson’s observed reality. A point may be arrived at where parsed words and dubious contrasts undermine confidence in the law and thus instigate the law’s revision.
If the system of law has had other successes—for example, the growth of a law of trade, a law of investment, a law of human rights, a law to regulate the use of force—then those would not have been achieved without the stability of the inter-State system that the territorial settlement has fostered. The successes well may obscure how fundamental that settlement has been to all that followed. The State, Territory, and International Law: The Annexation of 2014 as a Fundamental Challenge An international order emerged in the aftermath of World War II unlike any that had existed before.
14 M Aggression against Ukraine Then there is the more plausible position: lawfulness of the forcible act itself does not render lawful the annexation that that act effectuates. Under that position, another branch of Russia’s legal argument must be addressed, namely, the proposition that the separation of Crimea resulted in a new State and that that new State freely elected (as any State may do) to join another State willing to have it. This would not be to cure the unlawfulness of forcible annexation, but, instead, to claim that the annexation in question was not by force.