Ukraine, International Law and the Security of Small States

 Ukraine, International Law and the Security of Small States



Ambassador-at-Large Tommy Koh is dwelling upon some of the most salient questions with regard to the Russia-Ukraine conflict, based on international legal provisions: Could Russia question the territorial integrity of Ukraine? Did Russia had the right to annex Crimea? Are Donetsk and Luhansk part of the sovereign territory of Ukraine? Could Russia oppose to Ukraine’s application for NATO and EU? Using compelling legal arguments, Ambassador Koh provides short, comprehensive and accessible answers to questions posed by innumerable scholars and professionals alike.



Ambassador-at-Large Tommy Koh *



In the ancient world, there was no such thing as the rule of law. It was a world in which might was right. Small countries had no choice but to live under the mercy of bigger and more powerful countries.

There is a famous saying, in ancient Greece, that "the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must". In Chinese literature, we find a similar view about the fate of small countries. The ancient Chinese said that "small countries have no foreign policy".


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* Ambassador Tommy Koh is the chairman of the governing board of the Centre for International Law, National University of Singapore. He is also the Rector of Tembusu College and Ambassador-at-Large at Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Special Advisor of the Institute of Policy Studies; and Chairman of the National Heritage Board. He is on secondment from the NUS Faculty of Law, where he was Dean from 1971 to 1974.


Courtesy of the author. Originally published in “Straits Times”, on March 5th, 2022. The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the official policy, position or view of IRSEA.