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Experts believe American sanctions against Russia violate international law

The Russian prime minister, Dmitry Medvedev, noted that the American economic sanctions against Russia are illegal because they are arbitrary and do not originate with the United Nations. Furthermore, sanctions are inconsistent with the principles of the World Trade Organization, which Russia joined in 2012, because they are a means of trade discrimination. Mr. Medvedev maintained that “such sanctions violate the rules of the WTO itself, including most-favored-nation treatment, and is discriminatory to the suppliers of goods and services to other countries. They are a direct violation of the second article of the ‘General Agreement on Trade in Services’ and WTO agreements on specific financial transactions.”

Many experts agree that the sanctions are unilateral and do not have the backing of the United Nations.

The head of the International Arbitration and Dispute Resolution Practice of ART DE LEX, Artur Zurabyan, stated that the sanctions the United States imposed violate the Charter of the United Nations and international law, particularly the principle of sovereign equality and non-interference in internal affairs. Mr. Zurabyan explained that "only the UN Security Council can make such decisions against individual states and other legal entities.”

Second, the sanctions contradict World Trade Organization principles against unfair competition. Russia already filed complaints with the WTO, claiming the sanctions impede international trade and financial transactions, and Moscow intends to expand its list of charges against the US.

In addition to the WTO, Russia also may turn to the International Court of Justice. Experts agree, however, that there probably will be no judgements against the US, in part because there is no precedence with regard to sanctions. The US is unlikely to recognize the decision of any world body because it maintains that the sanctions are consistent with domestic law. Nevertheless, the findings of any international body may influence future international arbitration cases and the decisions of national courts.

The full version of the press release is at ITAR-TASS. The “General Agreement on Trade in Services” is on the World Trade Organization’s website at WTO.