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Russia Snubs UN Tribunal Probing Greenpeace Arrests

on November 8, 2013

World

On Wednesday morning, a panel of 22 judges took their seats at the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, a UN-mandated court based in Hamburg, Germany, only to find the defendants’ table empty. The plaintiffs, representing the Dutch government, glanced over at the seats reserved for their Russian counterparts, who had been called to defend Russia’s decision in September to seize a Dutch-flagged vessel and arrest the Greenpeace activists on board protesting Russian oil drilling in the Arctic. But the Russians failed to show up for their day in court, becoming the first state in history to ignore the Tribunal outright. It was a telling precedent and, for many observers, a worrying sign of Russia’s selective adherence to international law.

Two months ago, the sanctity of international law seemed to be all Russian President Vladimir Putin talked about, especially when the subject turned to the UN’s role…

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