In the light of the Crimean Crisis will International law have to accept that it is to the advantage of the citizens of Crimea that, in this case, the law of state succession applies De Facto in preference to that of occupied territory law?

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

The Crimea Crisis didn't just influenced the political world, it also challenged the international law system. It is one of the major crisis after the Cold War where the relationship between western states and Russia were at a point of collapsing. After the fled of the former Russian president, the "Little Green Man" entered Crimea and took over the control over the territory. In the beginning Russia denied any connection to this rebel group, but according to the effecting control test, their action can be attributed to Russia. Therefore Russia used illegally force in Crimea. After holding a referendum, which didn't met the international standards, Crimea singed a treaty, which lead to the incorporation into the Russian Federation. Because of the link to the illegal use of force these actions violated international law. Crimea is therefore occupied territory and the law of occupation applies to the area. But because Russia considers the territory as part of the Russian Federation, it considers the law of state succession as the applicable law. When we compare the two legal systems in regards to the rights and citizenship, it can be concluded that none of the two legal systems are more beneficent for the inhabitants than the other. As a consequence one can hypothetical ask if there are legal arguments in international law, which can be put forward to underpin the assumption that for the benefit of the inhabitants the de jure legal system has to evade in favor for the de facto system. There are several possible legal arguments, but none of them is in the position to underpin the raised question. Even there are no legal arguments the current discussion in international has the possibility to strengthen the law of occupation.