International law on Russia in Ukraine and on Israel in Palestine

Richard A. Falk, professor emeritus of international law and practice at Princeton University and former U.N. Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel since1967, discusses international law as it applies to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the contrast between the vigorous response of the international community to the invasion and its flaccid response to ongoing violations of international rights in occupied Palestine and in other conflicts taking place around the world. Falk notes there is a second normative level of international law practiced by the Great Powers in the world that is often not understood. The Russian invasion of Ukraine is illegal, but the U.S. invasion of Iraq set a precedent for what Russia is doing now. Falk observes that the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions movement targeting Israel is important at the symbolic level and proved effective against apartheid South Africa. Falk discusses his work as U.N. Special Rapporteur for Palestine from 2008-2014 and the savage criticism he received while in that post, including from U.S. officials. He says the U.N. and Palestinian focus on territory should be replaced with an emphasis on people and equality. Now 90, Falk has consistently prioritized conscience over career, which he discusses in his recently published memoir, Public Intellectual: The Life of a Citizen Pilgrim.

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