International Law after the Russo-Ukrainian War: From the Zeitenwende to Multipolarity

27 Max Planck Yearbook of United Nations Law (2024)

30 Pages Posted: 24 Jun 2024

See all articles by Patryk I. Labuda

Patryk I. Labuda

Polish Academy of Sciences - Institute of Legal Studies

Date Written: April 18, 2024

Abstract

This article analyses divergent legal responses to Russia's 2022 invasion of Ukraine and their impact on international law. Whereas Western states have supported Ukraine by providing military aid, imposing sanctions, and advocating accountability, the non-Western world has exhibited caution and ambivalence. Moving beyond three dominant narratives - a clash between the West and the Global South, a contest of democracies against autocracies, and the Zeitenwende - this article argues that the Russo-Ukrainian war has been an accelerator of shifts underway prior to the 2022 invasion, and that framing it as a 'turning point' may reflect Eurocentric perceptions rather than any demarcation from earlier normative trends. While the invasion has revealed divergent understandings of international law's universality, narratives about the end of Western hegemony, the Global South's rise, or the emergence of multipolarity in international law flatten the complexities of states' normative positions, which mix principle, economic self-interest, shifting political alliances, and historical precedent. There seems to be much continuity in states' legal positions, especially in the jus ad bellum and on sanctions, with a more regional approach to accountability potentially emerging. Despite perceptions of multipolarity, it is too early to speak of an emerging regional normative ordering, centred around dominant actors like the US, China, India, the EU or BRICS.

Keywords: universalism; regionalism, multipolarity, international law, hegemony

Suggested Citation

Labuda, Patryk I., International Law after the Russo-Ukrainian War: From the Zeitenwende to Multipolarity (April 18, 2024). 27 Max Planck Yearbook of United Nations Law (2024), Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4799436 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4799436

Patryk I. Labuda (Contact Author)

Polish Academy of Sciences - Institute of Legal Studies ( email )

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