Lunch seminar with Yulia Khalikova

Conflicted courts: Exploring the Russian Constitutional Court’s use of international courts’ case-law

Worldwide, the supremacy of international law is contested – from a non-compliance with international courts’ judgments to an open backlash against international institutions. Previous studies examine why states join international organisations, comply with international law or implement domestic reforms. However, we know very little about the dynamics of international law on the domestic level, especially in authoritarian countries. In this paper, I focus on constitutional courts in non-democracies, who are bound by the law, even when their country openly defies international order. Judges can use international law to justify (non-democratic) state policies or protect themselves against domestic actors. Using a novel dataset of all judgments from the Russian Constitutional Court (1992-2019), I examine when judges embed their decisions and separate opinions with references to international case-law. Focusing on Russia as a country that confronts existing international order, I  show how citation patterns change across time and policy areas, and whether their usage influence outcomes of hearings. This study contributes to our knowledge of authoritarian politics and the role of judges in autocracies but also has broader implications for other countries in times when international norms are contested.

Short bio:

Yulia Khalikova is a PhD candidate at the Bremen International Graduate School of Social Sciences, University of Bremen and Jacobs University Bremen. Her research interests broadly cover empirical legal studies, judicial politics, human rights law, authoritarianism, and Russian and post-Soviet politics. A graduate of Moscow’s Higher School of Economics, where she studied law and sociology, she is currently working on a dissertation about the role of constitutional courts in authoritarian regimes, focusing on the Russian Constitutional Court.

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