Thursday March 20, 2014
On the question of why the U.S. government considers the Crimean referendum on secession from Ukraine to be illegal, Michael S. Rozeff points to an interview with John B. Bellinger III, Adjunct Senior Fellow for International and National Security Law at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), whose answer consists of (a) Alice-In-Wonderland-worthy illogic and (b) lying about what international law has to say about the right to self-determination. Bellinger’s full response to the question is as follows:
The Obama administration and most European governments argue that the referendum violates both the Ukrainian constitution and international law. The Ukrainian constitution requires that any changes to the territory of Ukraine be approved by a referendum of all of the Ukrainian people. The requirement is consistent with general principles of international law, which respects the territorial integrity of states and does not recognize a right of secession by a group or region in a country unless the group or region has been denied a right to "internal self determination" (i.e., its right to pursue its own political, economic, social, and cultural development) by the central government or has been subject to grave human rights violations by the central government. These factors, which could give rise to a right of remedial secession under international law, are not present in Crimea.