In order for an international crime to be prosecuted in a domestic court, norms prescribing punishability have to be adopted in the legal system of the respective State. The article analyses issues that come up with autonomous transposition of international criminal law norms into the domestic legal order, based on the example of the Estonian Penal Code. It also seeks to offer an explanation as to why it is necessary to be aware of these issues and what the strategies would be to overcome problems with transposition. Both issues of the special part as well as the general part are touched upon.
The European Court of Human Rights with its case law has been for decades a particularly important actor in developing human rights law in Europe and beyond. At the same time the question as to the legal nature of its case law has not received a single answer. Most traditionally, the answer to this question has been that case law is binding on all States parties to the Convention at least to the extent that it contains lex interpretata as part of the Court’s authoritative interpretation of the Convention entrusted to it by the founding States of the Convention regime. In accordance with the Convention’s Article 46, judgments of the Court are binding on the respondent State. At the same time, judgments are followed more generally by the Contracting Parties while the Court’s case law has added to the original – admittedly open-ended – text of the Convention. This article explores the impact of civil law tradition, Anglo-Saxon tradition and the theory of sources of international law on better conceptualization of the legal nature of the case law of the Court. It arrives at the conclusion that at least for the time being, there is a coherent tendency in more advanced legal systems to acknowledge that the courts and judges do occasionally make law. The example of the European Court of Human Rights goes along with these developments. It is argued that case law is a material source of law while the overall consolidation of the Convention system begs for the conclusion that the Court’s case law has become a formal source of law.
The article scrutinizes the Baltic States and their century of independence which have been the focus of interest of various sciences. On the occasion of the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the proclamation of the independence of the Baltic States – Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia – some parallels could be drawn with the historical, economic and political development of these countries and Bulgaria. These parallels are not only found in the political and legal period but are contained in different stages, which shows the interesting legal and political nature of the Baltic States and some of their common problems and events with the countries of Eastern Europe and, in particular, the example with Bulgaria. The article has also drawn attention to a significant problem that the three Baltic States and Bulgaria have to deal with, namely the demographic crisis. This problem is particularly important in the light of migratory pressures that the countries outlining the external borders of the European Union are facing and it involves systematic and long-term efforts.
In September 1939, after having included a secret protocol on spheres of influence in the so-called Molotov- Ribbentrop Pact, Germany and the Soviet Union invaded Poland and divided it between themselves. It was not long before the Soviet Union approached Finland by proposing exchanges of certain territories: ‘in our national interest we want to have from you certain territories and offer in exchange territories twice as large but in less crucial areas’. Finland, suspicious of Soviet motives, refused – the outcome was the Soviet war of aggression against Finland by the name of the Winter War in 1939–1940. The Soviet Union won this war and compelled Finland to cede several territories – about 10 per cent of Finland’s area.
After the Winter War, Finland sought protection from Germany against the Soviet Union and decided to rely on Germany. After Germany attacked the Soviet Union in June 1941, Finland joined the German war effort in the so-called Continuation War and reoccupied the territories lost in the Winter War. Finnish forces did not stop at the old border but occupied Eastern (Soviet) Karelia with a desire eventually to annex it. By that measure, Finland joined as Germany’s ally in its war of aggression against the Soviet Union in violation of international law. In their strong reliance on Germany, the Finnish leaders made some very questionable decisions without listening to warnings from Western States about possible negative consequences.
Germany lost its war and so did Finland, which barely avoided entire occupation by the Soviet Army and succeeded in September 1944 in concluding an armistice with the Soviet Union. Finland lost some more territories and was subjected to many obligations and restrictions in the 1947 Paris Peace Treaty, dictated by the Allies.
This article analyses, according to the criteria of international law, Finland’s policy shortly prior to and during the Continuation War, especially Finland’s secret dealings with Germany in the months prior to the German attack against the Soviet Union and Finland’s occupation of Eastern Karelia in the autumn of 1941. After Adolf Hitler declared that Germany was fighting against the Soviet Union together with Finland and Romania, was the Soviet Union entitled – prior to the Finnish attack – to resort to armed force in self-defence against Finland? And was Finland treated too harshly in the aftermath of World War ii? After all, its role as an ally of Germany had been rather limited.