This paper focuses on the use of human rights considerations as an instrument in international relations, attempting to provide an interpretation of Russia’s foreign policy using a two-level analysis. The first level is the international level, pertaining to the extent to which Russia has joined and ratified international conventions on human rights, as well as the conduct of Russia inside the UN Security Council and the attempts of the Russian administration to thus legitimize foreign policy decisions using human rights considerations. The second level is the regional and bilateral level, analysing interactions in the field of human rights between Russia and the states in the region, as well as the implications of these interactions for the regional conflicts, from the theoretical perspective of conflict transformation theory that sees human rights violations as both causes and consequences of conflicts. The analysis in this paper focuses on the developments of the post-Cold War era, advancing the hypothesis that, although Russia has increasingly expanded its formal acceptance of the international body of law on human rights and has been more and more actively involved in promoting human rights internationally, its attitude towards specific human rights issues remains controversial, thus making Russian foreign policy on human rights unpredictable and marked by uncertainty.
■ Human rights ■ Russia’s foreign policy ■ Conflict ■ Transformation ■ State sovereignty
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