Have the authorities of the Russia-recognized republics of Donetsk and Luhansk commented on whether they consider themselves bound by the Geneva Conventions?

They didn't sign any of those. Do they (LPR/DPR) maybe consider themselves successor states of the USSR, implicitly bound that way?

  • 3
    They can't be successor states of the USSR, by any definition of the word. They only declared themselves to exist in 2014.
    – wrod
    Jun 13, 2022 at 4:16
  • @wrod: you keep posting comments like that to every question on this angle, so you can answer politics.stackexchange.com/questions/73613/… I hope. But hopefully not like the -9 highly opinionated answer backed by few facts that unfortunately were the first here. Jun 13, 2022 at 18:22
  • I saw that question. But I disagree with the 1st paragraph, as written. I have looked enough into what is meant by succession and into the process by which Taiwan was replaced by PRC in the UN. But, unfortunately, the negotiations that followed the break of the SU is not something I know much about. And it is those negotiations that shaped a lot of post-Soviet republics' international relations. WRT UN I only know that Ukraine has recently (a few months ago) made a new claim that RF is not a legitimate member of the UN because its membership hasn't been affirmed with a vote.
    – wrod
    Jun 13, 2022 at 18:30
  • @Fizz Is your question about whether LPR/DPR consider themselves bound by the Geneva Conventions, or whether this self-proclaimed consideration is recognized by other countries? Jun 14, 2022 at 14:31
  • 1
    @TimurShtatland: isn't "consider themselves" explicit enough? Jun 14, 2022 at 18:04

3 Answers 3


The DPR considers itself bound by the Geneva Conventions - excluding the protocol agreed in 2005. In August 2014, the DPR's Ministry of Foreign Affairs published the following excerpt of a decree from the country's Supreme Council:

Remaining committed to the fundamental norms of international law in the field of human rights and freedoms, the Supreme Council of the Donetsk People's Republic resolves:

  1. To recognize as fundamental law on the territory of the Donetsk People's Republic:

    • The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide of December 9, 1948,
    • The Geneva Conventions of August 12, 1949 and their Additional Protocols of June 8, 1977,
    • The Convention on the Fight against Terrorism of 1976,
    • The Convention on the Non-Applicability of Statutory Limitations to War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity of 1968.
  2. To send copies of this Decree to the depositories of the above-mentioned conventions.

  3. That this Decree comes into force from the moment of signing.

August 15, 2014

Note that while the above does exclude the 2005 Protocol III - that protocol only regards the adoption of the "red crystal" emblem in addition to the red cross and crescent, so the exclusion is mostly inconsequential. Also, the depositary - Switzerland - doesn't seem to have reported the receipt of any declaration, but that's unsurprising given the lack of international recognition of the DPR.

I'm not aware of an equivalent decree issued by the LPR.

According to the list maintained by Switzerland, neither the DPR or the LPR have issued a unilateral declaration addressed to the depositary in accordance with Article 96.3 of Protocol I - which allows "an authority representing a people engaged against a High Contracting Party in an armed conflict" to "undertake to apply the Conventions and this Protocol in relation to that conflict".

  • I wonder if they have any good reason why they don't like red diamonds instead of red crosses, or if that was just an oversight.
    – Philipp
    Jun 13, 2022 at 15:09
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    @Philipp I wonder if it has something to do with the fact that Ukraine has ratified Protocol III, while Russia is just a signatory...
    – CDJB
    Jun 13, 2022 at 15:15
  • Does Protocol III have any significance other than the red emblem shape?
    – einpoklum
    Jun 13, 2022 at 17:34
  • 1
    @einpoklum No, not really.
    – Philipp
    Jun 14, 2022 at 13:07
  • @CDJB: Have edited based on Philipp's comment to downplay the significance of Protocol III non-adoption.
    – einpoklum
    Jun 14, 2022 at 13:43

From the recent "mercenary" charges they applied to Aiden Aslin, Shaun Pinner and Saadoun Brahim that were all "members of the armed forces of a Party to the conflict" looks like they themselves feel free to interpret these conventions rather flexibly, especially that no official explanation is seen anywhere why exactly army enrollment does not matter for them. And no attempt to present a proof that these people have been offered a payment "substantially in excess of that promised or paid to combatants of similar ranks and functions in the armed forces of that Party". Also how does it happened that the holder of the Ukrainian passport is "neither a national nor a resident". All citizens are nationals (some nationals may not be citizens, source).

I may not be able to understand all argumentation, but - there is no argumentation. If they were feeling as bound by these rules, they would be trying to provide at least some explanation for these judgements in they context. They choose not to, meaning first they create the definition of the "mercenary" how they see reasonable and then just apply that.

So no, de facto they do not consider, regardless if there are any reasons for that or not.

  • 1
    Yeah, their court decision is pretty questionable, but it's interesting to know why they bothered to call them mercenaries... It seems it was precisely so they could claim that the convention that the DPR otherwise claims to apply... doesn't apply in those cases. Jun 14, 2022 at 3:00

Have the authorities of the Russia-recognized republics of Donetsk and Luhansk commented on whether they consider themselves bound by the Geneva Conventions? They didn't sign any of those.

The fake "republics" cannot be party to any international convention, such as the Geneva Convention. You have to be a country to be able to do that. The so-called "republics" cannot do that for the same reason as you and I cannot use Russian help, secede from the United States, and declare that we are bound by the Geneva Convention (and then violate that convention at every step).

Do they (LPR/DPR) maybe consider themselves successor states of the USSR, implicitly bound that way?

The fake "republics" have issued no statements as to whether they consider themselves successor states of the USSR. In fact, their poorly defined legal status has been exploited by Russians. In Russia, there is still a moratorium on death penalty. LPR and DPR have no such moratorium. This allows Russia to hand over the captured soldiers and sentence them to death by the kangaroo courts of LPR and DPR. Geneva convention means next to nothing to the invading Russian army. It is expected that Geneva convention will mean even less to the fake republics.


UNITED NATIONS, June 9. /TASS/. The United Nations calls for compliance with the Geneva Conventions on the treatment of prisoners of war, Spokesman for the UN Secretary General Stephane Dujarric said at a briefing on Thursday, commenting on the death sentence handed to mercenaries from the United Kingdom and Morocco in the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR).

"First of all, we stand against the death penalty, we always have and always will. We call on all the combatants, who have been detained, to be afforded international protection and to be treated according to the Geneva Conventions," he pointed out.

A Donetsk court on Thursday found British nationals Shaun Pinner and Aiden Aslin and Moroccan Brahim Saadoun guilty of participating in military activities as mercenaries on the side of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. According to the DPR Prosecutor General's Office, the testimony of Shaun Pinner, Aiden Aslin and Brahim Saadoun confirmed their involvement in crimes as defined by Article 34.2 of the DPR Criminal Code (crimes committed by a group of people), Article 323 of the DPR Criminal Code (forcible seizure of power or forcible retention of power) and Article 430 of the DPR Criminal Code (mercenary activities). The decision can be appealed within a month.

UN calls for compliance with Geneva Conventions following DPR court’s ruling: https://tass.com/world/1463091

Responding to the news that a separatist “court” in Russia-occupied Donetsk ordered the death of two captured two British nationals and a captured Moroccan national, Denis Krivosheev, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, said:

“This is a blatant violation of international humanitarian law on so many counts.

“The three were members of the Ukrainian regular forces and under the Geneva Conventions, as prisoners of war, they are protected from prosecution for taking part in hostilities. The only exception is prosecution for alleged war crimes, in which case there must be sufficient admissible evidence, and fair trial standards must be ensured. Not only this is not the case in this scenario – they were not tried by an independent, impartial regularly constituted court but by Russian proxies. The so-called ‘charges’ against them would not constitute war crimes. And most outrageously of all, the taking of their lives as result of the grossly unfair proceedings would constitute arbitrary deprivation of life.

“In fact, wilfully depriving a prisoner of war or other protected person of the right to a fair and regular trial constitutes a war crime. Russia, as the occupying power, bears responsibility for the treatment of all prisoners of war and others deprived of their liberty. They must ensure this so-called ‘sentence’ is immediately quashed, and that these men are treated in full compliance with international humanitarian law.”

Ukraine/Russia: “Death sentences” against three foreign members of Ukrainian forces by separatists’ “courts” a blatant violation of international law: https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2022/06/ukraine-russia-death-sentences-against-three-foreign-members-of-ukrainian-forces-by-separatists-courts-a-blatant-violation-of-international-law/

Note: The relevance to the real world of whether any non-country entity considers itself bound by the Geneva Conventions is left as an exercise to the reader. What is important for the real world is (a) whether the entity is in fact a sovereign country (and not a fictional entity), and (b) whether it does in fact observe the Geneva Conventions (and not just declares that it does, and then violates them).

  • 5
    A political group does not need international recognition to declare that they consider themselves bound by a convention.
    – Philipp
    Jun 13, 2022 at 15:29
  • 7
    I do have a reference. Article 96.3 of Protocol I of the Geneva Conventions: "The authority representing a people engaged against a High Contracting Party in an armed conflict of the type referred to in Article 1, paragraph 4, may undertake to apply the Conventions and this Protocol in relation to that conflict by means of a unilateral declaration addressed to the depositary." (Again, thanks to the answer by CDJB)
    – Philipp
    Jun 13, 2022 at 15:37
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    @TimurShtatland you can declare whatever you want about your own behavior after seceding. Whether others will honor that declaration in deciding how to treat you is another matter (addressed by Philipp's comments). What would it even mean to say that they cannot unilaterally decide to abide by the Geneva conventions? That they are required to abuse people whom they have taken prisoner? They do not claim to be a High Contracting Party; they only make representations about their behavior.
    – phoog
    Jun 13, 2022 at 18:21
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    Downvoted because you seem to misunderstand the word "declare".
    – Nobody
    Jun 13, 2022 at 19:57
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    @TimurShtatland it would be a loss if this entire discussion got buried in a chat room. Please, consider incorporating some of the results of the discussion in your answer. As an advice on quality, please, consider shortening the quoted text to just the most relevant parts (while linking to the rest). I upvoted, but I suspect I wouldn't have if I hadn't shared your sentiment on the topic. It is currently hard to see why the quotes support your assertions.
    – wrod
    Jun 14, 2022 at 5:21

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