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Boundaries and Rights after 2014

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Helsinki at a Crossroads

For more content, see Helsinki Monitor.

In its Decalogue, the Final Act of the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe reflects the centrality of the territorial settlement to public order in Europe. It also reflects the hope that human rights will become more deeply entrenched across all state parties to the Act. The intertwining of territorial provisions and human rights was no mere coincidence: it was at the heart of the compromise that enabled the parties to agree to the text as adopted. The events of 2014—in particular the forcible seizure of Ukrainian territory—raise questions as to the continuing vitality of the compromise that was reached in 1975 and long maintained. The new foreign policy of the Russian Federation, by embracing a potentially far-ranging irredentism, places the territorial idea of the Final Act under stress. Simultaneously, a new domestic policy rejects not only the enforceability of human rights at the international level but also the applicability of human-rights obligations in the national legal order. The new foreign and domestic policies in Russia have emerged in tandem. Their relation to each other must be considered if their effect on public order is to be understood.

Affiliations: 1: Fellow, Lauterpacht Centre for International Law; Fellow, Wolfson College, University of Cambridge,


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