Dissertation defence (International Law): LL.M Shorena Nikoleishvili


22.4.2024 at 12.00 - 16.00
LL.M Shorena Nikoleishvili defends the dissertation in International Law titled “Resistance to change. An international legal argument of secession: Potentials and limitations of international Law” at the University of Turku on 22 April 2024 at 12.00 (University of Turku, Calonia, Auditorium CAL 1, Caloniankuja 3, Turku).

Opponent: Professor Wouter G. Werner (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, the Netherlands)
Custos: Associate Professor Mikko Rajavuori (University of Turku)

Doctoral Dissertation at UTUPub: https://urn.fi/URN:ISBN:978-951-29-9648-3


Summary of the Doctoral Dissertation:

How do states that are the foundation of international community emerge? For long, international community consisted of a handful of European states, but this number has grown manifold after the Second World War. To create something new, something needs to break. This break-up of states for creation of new ones is at the limelight of my dissertation. The break-up is called secession. A limited right to secession is recognized and relatively clearly defined in international law. Yet, the application of secession has often proved out to be challenging. I look at these challenges through two examples: Western Sahara and Abkhazia.

I show in my dissertation that the application of the law on secession is inconsistent even the letter of law appears clear. Due to the unfulfilled promise of secession, those formally entitled to such right have in recent decades resorted to less traditional forums of international law to uphold their interest. Despite there being some success, this has not amounted to recognition of statehood, but to a more limited protection of interests of people seeking statehood. I conclude my analysis by indicating the most obvious villain of the story – the existing states.

This has especially been true, as shown in recent years, in the regions surrounding Russia. For more than two decades, Russia has been spurring and maintaining secessionist conflicts in its near abroad by instrumentalising international law. Echoing international law arguments employed by the Western powers in former Yugoslavia and else, it has used the potent language of international law of secession to divide and conquer its neighbouring countries. This succumb of law to power should not, I argue, lead to despair, but towards better enforcement of law by the international community itself.
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