ND Law School’s O’Connell assesses legality of Caucasus war

Author: Michael O. Garvey


Mary Ellen OConnell, Robert and Marion Short Professor of Law in the Notre Dame Law School, said that both the Obama and McCain presidential campaigns correctly assessed the legality of war between Russia and Georgia.

According to OConnell, a specialist in international law, both candidatesare right to condemn the violations of international law we are witnessing in the Russia-Georgia conflict.

Georgia was wrong to use force in the first instance,she said,but the Russians are responding with extraordinary disproportion.

Russian military forces moved into Georgia on Friday after the Georgian army launched an offensive to bring South Ossetia back under its governments control.

OConnell, author ofThe Power and Purpose of International Law,has written and lectured on international legal regulation of the use of force and conflict and dispute resolution, especially peaceful resolution of disputes prior to an escalation to armed conflict. She also has been active in the American Society of International Law, the International Institute for Humanitarian Law, the International Law Association, and the Council on Foreign Relations.

Just a few months ago, the Russians were railing against the West for supporting Kosovos independence in violation of international law.Now they are doing the same with respect to South Ossetia and perhaps even Abkhazia,OConnell said.

Although President Dmitri A. Medvedev of Russia has announced that he has ordered a halt to military operations, fighting continued in Georgia today, as did speculation on Russias intention and strategies.

Seizing all of Georgia would violate the most fundamental international law,OConnell said.

Contact: Mary Ellen OConnell, 574-631-7953, MaryEllenOConnell@nd.edu

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