Russia, ‘Sovereign Democracy’ and International Law

Event date: 
Tue, 03/05/2013 - 10:00 to 12:00


United Kingdom

Despite the Government’s adherence to the principles of “sovereign democracy”, Russia has accepted a large growing list of international legal commitments through its membership of bodies like the Council of Europe and the WTO, as well as numerous multilateral and bilateral treaties. Proposed accession to the OECD suggests a willingness to accept further commitments in the future.

How is Russia managing the tension between its rejection of external involvement in its internal affairs and the reality of its increased integration into a rules-based international system? Is Russia a free-rider, enjoying the benefits of membership without accepting the obligations that go with it? Or does international law exert real and constructive influence over Russian policy and behaviour?

This exclusive discussion will assess Russia’s track record of compliance – or non-compliance – with international law, the effectiveness of legal instruments in persuading Russia to accept international norms and the prospects for Russia’s future position within the international legal environment.

It will address questions such as: how effective are external legal instruments as a means of dealing with Russia? What are the prospects for enforceability of international legal rulings against the Russian state? And how can foreign governments and international organisations use their influence to encourage Russian adherence to rules-based processes?

The discussion will be chaired by David Clark, Chair of the Russia Foundation, and will be held under Chatham House Rules. Lucy Scott-Moncrieff, President of the Law Society, will give opening remarks. Refreshments will be provided.


  • Alan Bacarese – Special Counsel at Peters and Peters Solicitors LLP and a leading UK and international anti-corruption expert. Alan specialises in corruption, money laundering, mutual legal assistance and fraud, with a wealth of experience as the recent Head of Legal and Case Consultancy at the International Centre for Asset Recovery, Basel, Switzerland.
  • Dr. Richard Connolly – Lecturer in Political Economy at the University of Birmingham and author of ‘The economic significance of Russia’s accession to the WTO’. He specialises in the political economy of the post-socialist region, in particular Russia, and is an expert on the WTO.
  • Professor Philip Leach – Professor of Human Rights at Middlesex University, a solicitor, and Director of the European Human Rights Advocacy Centre (EHRAC) which advises and assists NGOs in Russia, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia before the European Court of Human Rights.
  • Tim Osborne – Senior partner of Wiggin Osborne Fullerlove and a director of GML Ltd., the majority shareholder of the now liquidated Yukos Oil Company. GML, through subsidiaries, is currently pursuing compensation from the Russian Federation under the Energy Charter Treaty for the expropriation of its investment in Yukos.