Defender’s Paradox and the War in Ukraine: A Study of a Legal Dilemma

with Kamal Makili-Aliyev

The Stockholm Centre for International Law and Justice invites you to a seminar with

Kamal Makili-Aliyev
Defender’s Paradox and the War in Ukraine: A Study of a Legal Dilemma


Kamal Makili-Aliyev

The ongoing armed conflict in Ukraine has highlighted a textbook breach of international legal norms that prohibit the use of force and declare respect for the territorial integrity of the states in international relations. The classical nature of the conflict (clear aggressor v. defender that are engaged in prolonged warfare) not seen for some decades, brings up to light a tension between ad bellum and in bello norms that leads to a paradoxical situation where defending state will breach either one set of norms or the other, no matter what it chooses to do. By studying this tension, the article seeks a definition and understanding of this defender’s paradox, as well as the true scope of obligations of the defending side and possibilities to overcome the paradoxical situation in a legal context. This is achieved through a combination of descriptive and doctrinal legal analysis. By examining a case from the war in Ukraine, the study sheds more light on the implications of the paradox for post-conflict justice and contributes to the overall knowledge about the interaction between ad bellum and in bello norms in international armed conflicts.

Dr. Kamal Makili-Aliyev is a Senior Lecturer in Human Rights at the University of Gothenburg and an Affiliated Researcher at the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law. His primary research interests are in the fields of international law and international relations, with a specialization in the areas of international security and conflict resolution. He has held previous positions as a Senior Lecturer at Malmö University, a Post-Doctoral Researcher at Lund University, and as Vice-Rector of Lomonosov Moscow State University Baku Branch. Dr. Makili-Aliyev is a Fellow of the National Security Institute in Amherst, MA, USA.

Pål Wrange, SCILJ’s Director and Professor of International Law at Stockholm University, will provide further comments before opening the virtual floor for discussions.

The 59-minutes seminar series takes place on Zoom:
No registration required.