Philippine lawyers join calls for Russia to withdraw troops from Ukraine

‘The aggression against Ukraine…if allowed, will embolden future acts of aggression by other states similarly disinclined to respect the international rule of law, especially in the territorial and maritime disputes in Asia,’ says the Philippine Society of International Law

MANILA, Philippines – Filipino lawyers have added their voice to strong calls demanding Russia’s “immediate, complete, and unconditional” withdrawal of its forces from Ukraine, where intense fighting has spilled into its third week and forced more than 3 million people to flee.

The Philippine Society of International Law (PSIL) said in a statement on Thursday, March 17, that it backed the position of the United Nations (UN) and Philippine government in condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, emphasizing Russia’s violation of the UN Charter which prohibited states from using armed face against “the territorial integrity or political independence of other states.”

The PSIL, formed in 1961, is the Philippine chapter of the Asian Society of International Law, a professional and academic organization for international law.

“Calling it (Russia’s actions) ‘special military operations’ or any other term does not change the character of Russia’s actions as a full-scale invasion and an unlawful use of force,” PSIL said.

“The PSIL joins the international community in calling for a return to the paths of diplomacy in order to resolve soonest these disputes through peaceful means, and the immediate cessation of hostilities and violations of human rights and other acts that could amount to international crimes.” it added.

War in Ukraine is nearing its fourth week since Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the deployment of troops to its country on February 24. International outrage to mount against Russia’s invasion, after more missile attacks and struck civilians.

In supporting calls to end the fighting in Ukraine, the PSIL sought to “affirm the protection for human life and dignity even in situations of armed conflict, and strengthen the rule of law in international affairs.”

Recalling how the prohibition on the use or threat of force after World War 2 formed part of the bedrock of international law, the PSIL warned that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine “is the most brazen challenge to the international legal order in recent history.”

It urged Russia to comply with the International Court of Justice’s (ICJ) ruling that directed Moscow to “immediately suspend the military operations that it commenced on 24 February 2022 in the territory of Ukraine.” The ICJ also called on both sortie to avoid any action that could aggravate or extend the dispute or make it more difficult to resolve.

The ruling of the international court handed down on Wednesday, March 16, came after Ukraine turned to the UN’s highest court to seek an injunction against Russia’s incursions in the country. Ukraine had accused Russia of manipulating the concept of genocide to justify military aggression.

In backing calls against Russia’s actions, the PSIL group recognized that it was not the first time that the UN Charter was “stretched and strained to legitimize the recourse to armed aggression in the past.”

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, however, could set the dangerous precedent for other states to do the same, including in Asia, where territorial and maritime disputes were of concern to the Philippines.

“The aggression against Ukraine, that is to say, the full-scale armed invasion by one sovereign state against another state, without the thinnest legal veneer, if allowed, will embolden future acts of aggression by other states similarly disinclined to respect the international rule of law, especially in the territorial and maritime disputes in Asia,” PSIL said. –

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