Sydney Law School statement on Russia's violations of international law in Ukraine

1 March 2022
Scholars condemn violations of international law
Sydney Law School scholars sign a joint statement urging all countries to respect and ensure respect for international humanitarian law.

As scholars of The University of Sydney Law School, we condemn, as a most serious violation of customary international law and the United Nations Charter, the Russian Federation’s escalating military attack on Ukraine, which commenced with Russia’s occupation of Crimea, and invasion of Donbas, in 2014, and continues with the current assaults across Ukraine, including the capital Kyiv and other major cities.

Russia’s attack constitutes an illegal use of force; an armed attack giving Ukraine a right of self-defence; illegal aggression; a violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine; and an illegal intervention in Ukraine’s internal affairs. None of Russia’s purported legal justifications has any foundation in international law. Russia is also prohibited from any further annexation by force of Ukraine’s territory.

All countries have an international obligation not to recognise the illegal situation created by Russia, including unlawful recognition of and support for the supposed Donetsk and Luhansk “republics”, and must cooperate to bring it to an end. We support all measures, where consistent with international law, to bring Russia back into compliance with international law, including through diplomacy, the United Nations, peaceful dispute settlement before the International Court of Justice or other bodies, sanctions and other peaceful countermeasures, and, at its request, military assistance to Ukraine.

We further urge all countries to respect and ensure respect for international humanitarian law; to uphold international human rights law, international refugee law, and international environmental law; and to ensure full accountability and remedies for war crimes and other international crimes, including through supporting and cooperating with the International Criminal Court’s investigation. It is emphasised that any aggressive threat or use of nuclear weapons by Russia would also violate international law.

We welcome the staunch bipartisan support of the Australian Government and Opposition for Ukraine, upholding international law, providing humanitarian assistance, and protecting refugees from the conflict overseas and in Australia. We encourage Australia to defend the international legal order as staunchly in other situations involving grave violations of international law.

Statement endorsed by:

  • Professor Simon Bronitt, Head of Law and Dean
  • Professor Ben Saul, Challis Chair of International Law
  • Professor Wojciech Sadurski, Challis Professor of Jurisprudence, FASSA
  • Professor Patricia Apps, Public Economics, FASSA
  • Associate Professor Elisa Arcioni, leading scholar on constitutional identity
  • Irene Baghoomians, Senior Lecturer in International Law
  • Professor Vivienne Bath, Chinese and International Business Law
  • Dr Zofia Bednarz, Lecturer in Commercial Law
  • Jose-Miguel Bello Villarino, Research Fellow in International Law
  • Professor Emeritus Ben Boer, (Environmental Law) FAAL  
  • Dr Louise Boon-Kuo, Senior Lecturer
  • Professor Chester Brown, International Law and International Arbitration, FAAL
  • Professor Simon Butt, Indonesian Law and Director of Centre for Asia and Pacific Law
  • Professor Judy Cashmore, Socio-legal Research & Policy
  • Dr Ben Chen, Senior Lecturer
  • Dr Jason Chin, Lecturer
  • Associate Professor Ed Couzens, Environmental Law
  • Associate Professor Emily Crawford, International and Environmental Law
  • Professor Mary Crock, Public Law and Co-Director, Sydney Centre for International Law
  • Professor Michael Dirkis, Taxation Law and Co-Director of the Ross Parsons Centre for Corporate, Commercial and Taxation Law
  • Dr Olivia Dixon, Senior Lecturer
  • Dr Jeff Gordon, Lecturer
  • Associate Professor Nicole Graham
  • Dr Rosemary Grey, Lecturer in International Law
  • Professor David Hamer, Professor of Evidence Law
  • Dr Emily Hammond, Associate Lecturer
  • Professor Jason Harris, Corporate Law
  • Dr Joel Harrison, Senior Lecturer
  • Dr Grant Hooper, Lecturer in Public Law
  • Associate Professor Jie (Jeanne) Huang
  • Professor Emerita of Law Helen Irving, FASSA, FAAL, FRSN
  • Professor David Kinley, Chair in Human Rights Law, FASSA
  • Dr Coel Kirkby, Senior Lecturer in Law
  • Associate Professor Ghena Krayem, Islamic Law
  • Professor Murray Lee, Criminology
  • Professor Arlie Loughnan, Criminal Law and Criminal Law Theory
  • Professor Rosemary Lyster, Climate and Environmental Law
  • Professor Roger Magnusson, Health Law & Governance
  • Professor Gail Mason, Criminology
  • Dr Allan McCay, Academic Fellow and Deputy Director, Sydney Institute of Criminology
  • Professor Barbara McDonald, Torts and Equity, FAAL
  • Dr Carolyn McKay, Senior Research Fellow and Co-Director, Sydney Institute of Criminology
  • Professor Rebecca Millar, Professor of Law 
  • Dr Tanya Mitchell, Senior Lecturer
  • Dr Tamer Morris, Lecturer in International Law
  • Ben Mostyn, Academic Fellow
  • Associate Professor Jacqueline Mowbray, International Law
  • Professor Luke Nottage, Comparative and Transnational Business Law
  • Dr Olugbenga Olatunji, Lecturer in Intellectual Property Law
  • Dr Katherine Owens, Senior Lecturer in Environmental Law
  • Adj Associate Professor Alison Pert, Lecturer in International Law
  • Dr Belinda Reeve, Senior Lecturer 
  • Teela Reid, Indigenous Practitioner-in-Residence
  • Professor Simon Rice, OAM, Kim Santow Chair of Law and Social Justice
  • Professor David Rolph, Professor of Law, FAAL
  • Emeritus Professor Ron McCallum, AO
  • Dr Laura Schuijers, Lecturer in Climate and Environmental Law
  • Michael Sevel, Senior Lecturer in Jurisprudence
  • Professor Rita Shackel, Law and Ethics
  • Dr Natalie Silver, Senior Lecturer in Law
  • Associate Professor Belinda Smith, Antidiscrimination Law
  • Professor Tim Stephens, International Law, FAAL
  • Professor Cameron Stewart, Health, Law and Ethics
  • Associate Professor Stacie Strong, Co-Director, Sydney Centre for International Law
  • Emeritus Professor Terry Carney, AO FAAL
  • Dr Rayner Thwaites, Senior Lecturer
  • Dr Gemma Turton, Senior Lecturer
  • Dr Ana Ubilava, Lecturer in International Law
  • Richard Vann, Challis Professor of Law
  • Dr Kevin Walton, Senior Lecturer
  • Professor Kimberlee Weatherall, Professor of Law
  • Dr David Winterton, Senior Lecturer
  • Dr Scarlet Wilcock, Lecturer

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