Conference 2023

Ukraine and the Post-Liberal International Order after the Zeitenwende


University of Zurich, Faculty of Law ; Institute for International and Foreign Constitutional Law


15-16 June 2023 ; Zurich, Switzerland

Concept Note

The war in Ukraine is widely seen as a turning point in international affairs. While the war has been met with unprecedented ‘Western’ solidarity, including in the form of extensive sanctions, their downstream effects on food and energy security have produced backlash from many non-Western states, which continue to trade with Russia. Although some nominally non-aligned governments, notably India and China, have warned against President Putin’s nuclear sabre-rattling, some states also point to Western double standards in violating the non-intervention norm, hesitate to impose coercive measures against Russia, and advocate reform of multilateral institutions, for instance the UN Security Council. Several master narratives have emerged to describe the ongoing changes. Russia propagates a story of a civilizational clash, pitting the ‘West’ against the ‘Rest’, whereas some Western leaders invoke the trope of ‘democracies’ versus ‘autocracies’. Meanwhile, analysts focus on voting patterns in the UN General Assembly and employ equally broad strokes narratives about the ‘West’, ‘Global South’ or ‘Non-Alignment’. Moving beyond assumptions and master narratives, this conference aims to analyse how state, regional and non-state actors have responded to the war in different areas of international law, for instance on the prohibition of force, unilateral and multilateral sanctions, food and energy security, accountability for serious crimes and human rights violations, migration governance, nuclear proliferation, climate change and environmental protection. In addressing these questions, the conference is an opportunity to consider questions, such as: to what extent the war in Ukraine is a transformational moment for the legal order? Will post-2022 reforms help decentralize global governance in selected areas of international law or, conversely, resurrect multilateralism? What new and old cross-regional and intra-regional alliances are likely to form?

Conference Programme (download pdf here)

Day 1: Thursday, 15 June 2023

Venue: Room: RAI-F-041, Rämistrasse 74, 8001 Zurich

Faculty of Law, University of Zurich


9.00 – 9.15: Welcome remarks, University of Zurich


9.15 – 10.15: Keynote address and Q and A: Heike Krieger, Professor of Public and International Law, Free University Berlin, Germany


10.15 – 10.45: Coffee break


10.45 – 12.30: Panel 1: Global responses from a cross-regional perspective

·       Heidi Gilchrist, Associate Professor, Brooklyn Law School in New York, USA

Ukraine, Moral Outrage, and International Law

·       Benjamin Traoré, Assistant Professor Mohamed VI Polytechnic University Morocco

Disapproving and Yet Not Aligning: African Stances on the Aggression against Ukraine

·       Burra Srinivas, Associate Professor, South Asian University in New Delhi, India

The Russian Invasion of Ukraine is not a Turning Point: However It Can be Made One

·       John-Mark Iyi, Associate Professor, University of the Western Cape, South Africa

Autonomy and Transformation in the International Legal Order: A Realist Assessment of Africa’s Response to Russia’s Use of Force in Ukraine


12.30 – 14.00: Lunch break


14.00 – 15:45: Panel 2: Regional alliances and the future of multilateralism

·      Ka Lok Yip, Assistant Professor, Hamad Bin Khalifa University, Qatar

The Global Security Initiative as Post-Liberal International Order?

·      Artur Simonyan, PhD Researcher, University of Tartu, Estonia

Post-Grossraum International Law in Eurasia

·      Young Joo, Assistant Professor, Prince Mohammed bin Fahd University, Saudi Arabia

The Dilemma of the Supremacy Mentality: The Case Study of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Future of Global Leadership and Order

·      Malcolm Jorgensen, Senior Research Fellow, Max Planck Institute, Germany

The Russo-Ukrainian War as a ‘Wedge Strategy’ for Remaking the International Order


15:45 – 16.15: Coffee break



16.15 – 17:45: Panel 3: Neutrality, arms transfers, and non-recognition

·       Mateusz Piątkowski, Assistant Professor, University of Łódź, Poland

‘Our’ Non-Belligerency and ‘Their’ Neutrality: A Political and Legal Clash Between the Central European Approach to Military Supply to Ukraine and the Rest of the World

·       Marina Aksenova, Assistant Professor, IE University Madrid, Spain

Enforcing International Law through Military Means: The Arms Trade Treaty and the Role of Weapons in Ceasing and Perpetuating Conflict

·       David Hughes, Lecturer, University of Toronto, Canada

(Non)-recognition and the Use of Force: What Ongoing Territorial Disputes Mean for the Application of International Law in Ukraine and Beyond


19:00 Conference dinner


Day 2: Friday, 16 June 2023

Venue: Room: RAI-F-041, Rämistrasse 74, 8001 Zurich

Faculty of Law, University of Zurich


9.00 – 10.30: Panel 4: Ukraine, Sanctions and the Global Economy

·      Cristiane Derani, Professor, Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, Brazil

Food trade in a multipolar world

·      Nathanael Tilahun, Senior Lecturer (Associate Professor), Essex Law School, UK

The Ukraine War and Shifting Attitudes on Sanctions in Europe and Africa

·      Michał Swarabowicz, Postdoctoral Fellow, New South Wales University, Australia

They Do Things Differently There: International Economic Law and the Making of the Post-Communist State (online)

10.30 – 11.00: Coffee break


11.00 – 12.45: Panel 5: Selected issues of international law

·       Maja Łysienia, Association for Legal Intervention, Zurich, Switzerland

Principle of Non-Refoulement at the Polish Borders: Before and After the War in Ukraine

·       Iryna Bogdanova, Postdoctoral researcher, World Trade Institute, University of Bern, Switzerland

Use of Frozen Russia Assets to Rebuild Ukraine: Between Political Will and Legal Hurdles

·       Alexandre Skander Galand, Assistant Professor, Maastricht University, Netherlands

The Creation of a Special Tribunal for the Crime of Aggression Against Ukraine as a Means of Reprisals: Reconsidering State Officials’ Immunity in Wartime

·       Łukasz Kułaga, Associate Professor, Stefan Wyszyński University Warsaw, Poland

Immunity ratione materiae, the crime of aggression and the war in Ukraine (online)


12.45 – 14.15: Lunch break



14.15 – 15.45: Panel 6: Theoretical and critical perspectives

·      Maria Varaki, Lecturer, War Studies Department, King’s College London, UK

International Law; a language of both power and resistance?

·      Marek Jan Wasiński, Associate Professor, University of Łódź, Poland

‘Eating People is Wrong! It’s Wrong?’ Two Liberalisms and Eastern Europe Inside the Cannibal Pot

·      Sergii Masol, Humboldt Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Cologne, Germany

International Law and the Russo-Ukrainian War in a Dog-Eat-Dog World of Westsplaining and Russplaining


15.45 – 16.15: Coffee break


16:15 – 16.45: Roundtable and conference closing



This conference is supported generously by the Swiss National Science Foundation, Scientific Exchanges grant IZSEZ0_217553 and the University of Zurich’s Faculty of Law.

Organizing Committee: Dr. Patryk I. Labuda, Dr. Elif Askin, Prof. Daniel Moeckli