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Uneasy Neutrality: Great Britain and the Greek War of Independence
Viktoria Jakjimovska (Leuven)

  • Melbourne Law School 185 Pelham Street Carlton, VIC, 3053 Australia (map)
Eugène Delacroix, Greece on the Ruins of Missolonghi (1826).

Eugène Delacroix, Greece on the Ruins of Missolonghi (1826).

The nineteenth century brought civil wars to the forefront of the international legal agenda. Hostilities within the boundaries of one state were now seen as domestic matters except insofar as they constituted direct threat to the interests of other states, or, more generally, to the equilibrium and repose of Europe. Whereas some states remained impartial spectators of the internal struggles, others were more willing to intervene on behalf of one of the parties to the conflict. The outcome was a large amount of state practice which greatly influenced the development of international law related to civil war.

In this seminar, Viktorija Jakjimovska focused on the legal and conceptual analysis of British responses to the Greek War of Independence (1821-1832) on the basis of relevant state practice and demonstrated how these responses underwent constant development during the period considered: from neutrality whereby some international recognition was given to the war, to direct intervention in favour of one of the belligerents. By considering the emerging international legal rules concerning civil wars together with the forensic arguments developed to justify policies of intervention or not in other state’s domestic troubles, Viktorija tried to unearth not merely what the British government did, but why it did it, which were the particular circumstances on which its view was based, the perceived legal limits for its action, the legal controversies it faced, and the solutions it offered. Against this background, she explored how the increasing tensions between the political context in which these arguments were defended, and the grounds international law offered, contributed in shaping civil war as a legal concept within the jus ad bellum.


Viktorija Jakjimovska is a a Kathleen Fitzpatrick Visiting Fellow with the Laureate Program in International Law at Melbourne Law School in 2017. She is a doctoral candidate at University of Leuven (Belgium). She obtained an LLM from the University of Cambridge and an LLM/MAS from the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights. In 2012, she worked as a research assistant at the UN International Law Commission (64th session). Her research is supported by the Research Foundation Flanders (FWO).