Skip to main content

The Kosovo Crisis: A Dostoievskian Dialogue on International Law, Statecraft, and Soulcraft

Posted by on Wednesday, July 11, 2012 in Articles, Vol. 42 No 1, Volume 42, Volumes.

The secession of Kosovo from Serbia in February 2008 represents a stage in the unfolding of a revolution of “constitutional” dimensions in international law that began with NATO’s 1999 intervention in Kosovo.  NATO’s intervention called into question the authority and viability of the UN Charter system for maintaining international peace.  Likewise, the West’s decision in 2008 to support Kosovo’s secession from Serbia dealt another blow to the post-War legal rules and institutions for controlling and mitigating great power rivalry.   Russia’s later support for South Ossetia’s secession from Georgia demonstrated the potential that the Kosovo precedent has for destabilizing the internati

This Article takes the form of a five-act play, consisting of a series of speeches and exchanges between characters drawn from Fyodor Dostoievski’s classic novel, The Brothers Karamazov. The dialogue moves on three levels.  The first level is that of “normal” international law—the characters engage in a prolonged debate over the legality of Kosovo’s secession that explores the usual modalities of international legal argument.  The intention here is to demonstrate that when the internal conceptual resources of international law have been exhausted, they yield no decisive answer to the question of the legality of Kosovo’s secession.  The second level is an attempt to grasp the consequences for the international order of Russia’s re-emergence as a Great Power and (even more basically) of the emergence of a “multi-polar” world.  The third level is an examination of the basic, but usually unstated, philosophical and theological presuppositions of “the Western idea” and “the Russian idea.”  The speeches in this final act of the drama intend to show how these two rival understandings yield corresponding views of the international order and, more particularly, of the proper scope and limits of international law.

onal legal order.

Tags: , , ,

Leave a Response

ExpressO Top 10 Law Review


The Journal is pleased to announce its 2018-2019 Board of Editors. Complete-Masthead-2018-2019

Vanderbilt University Law School Professor Michael A. Newton’s 2016 VJTL Article entitled How the International Criminal Court Threatens Treaty Norms  was cited by the International Criminal Court prosecutor’s November 2017 filing seeking investigation into war crimes in Afghanistan.

May 2018 Issue on the Second Israel Defense Forces International Conference on the Law of Armed Conflict. Read more about the Journal’s May 2018 issue here.

Thank you to everyone who attended the Journal’s 50th Anniversary celebration on October 5, 2017! View photos from the event here and read about the Journal’s history here.

Connect with the Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law on LinkedIn.

The Journal is pleased to listed as the #5 International Law Journal by the 2017 Washington and Lee Law Journal Rankings.

The Journal is very excited about the success of our February 2017 Symposium, “Sovereign Conduct on the Margins of the Law.” Read more about our February 2017 Symposium here

Please join us in congratulating the Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law 2017-2018 Write-On Competition Winners.

Video is available from the Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law’s 2015-2016 SymposiumThis is Not a Drill: Confronting Legal Issues in the Wake of International Disasters. Watch here.