A key balance between two of the most fundamental principles of the post-World War II international legal and political order is at stake today in Ukraine. Particularly in its annexation of Crimea, Russia has exploited the tension between a fundamental principle that prohibits the acquisition of territory through the use of force and an equally fundamental right of self-determination. Russia’s reinterpretation of these two principles could well destabilize the tenuous balance between the protection of individual rights and the preservation of states’ territorial integrity that undergirds the post World War II order. In determining the precedent that will be remembered from the events in Crimea, the US must work to build legal and diplomatic coalitions that narrow exceptions and reaffirm the principles of the modern international order.
Burke-White, William W., "Crimea and the International Legal Order" (2014). Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law. 1360.