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Weekly Update 25 February 2022

Weekly Update 25 February 2022

Dear Friends,

The Russian invasion of Ukraine, which President Putin claims to be justified in international law, is in fact a grave breach of international law, as explained by Professor Andrew Clapham, an expert on the Law of War, in last week's Matrix podcast Russia-Ukraine: What's Law got to do with it?. In a stark repudiation of multilateralism and the rules-based international order, the attack began in the early hours of Thursday while the UN Security Council was meeting to discuss the situation. Despite the protests of many delegates, the meeting was adjourned by the Russian delegation, which currently holds the Security Council chair.

The shocking return of war in Europe is a chilling reminder of the impotence of the world's current machinery for enforcing international law in the face of naked assertions of power by nuclear-armed states. It is also a sobering example of where international law double-speak - the pretence of states that they are acting compatibly with international law when they are in fact flagrantly violating it - can lead.

The Bingham Centre would like to express its solidarity with the large numbers of people in Ukraine who have valiantly and patiently been building a democratic Rule of Law culture in the country since its independence in 1991. No-one has done more to advance that cause than Professor Serhiy Holovaty, Deputy Chairman of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine and a former Minister of Justice.

His long term vision and deep understanding, from practical experience, of democracy and the Rule of Law have been the driving force behind the building of a pan-European consensus about the meaning of the Rule of Law, as reflected in the Rule of Law Checklist of the Venice Commission for Democracy Through Law. He has been instrumental not only in forging that consensus about the Rule of Law, but in ongoing efforts to embed it not just in Ukraine but throughout post-communist Eastern Europe. As we write this Update, Professor Holovaty and his fellow Constitutional Court judges are fleeing Kyiv following a night under missile attack from Russia, along with millions of their fellow citizens, as tanks and troops close in. The Bingham Centre hopes they all find places of safety from which they will be able to work with the international community towards the rebuilding of democracy and the Rule of Law in Ukraine when that moment comes, as it surely will.

Elsewhere in Europe, efforts continue to give meaningful effect to Rule of Law principles. In this short Update, we bring you news of a rapid-response panel discussion co-hosted by the Bingham Centre on EU Rule of Law enforcement following a recent decision by the Court of Justice in Luxembourg on the EU budget conditionality regulation. The event is available to watch here.

Readers are also encouraged to watch the proceedings of the House of Commons European Scrutiny Committee next week, when Bingham Centre Research Fellow Dr Oliver Garner will give evidence on UK Government proposals relating to retained EU law.

You can read the whole Update here.

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