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ICJ orders Georgia, Russia to stop ethnic discrimination in conflict region

[JURIST] The International Court of Justice (ICJ) [official website] on Wednesday rejected [decision text, PDF; press release, PDF; case docket] an emergency request for provisional measures from the Georgian Republic to stop the alleged killing and mass displacement of citizens in the breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia [JURIST news archive], instead calling on both Georgia and Russia to meet their obligations under the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD)[text]. The Court determined that it possessed prima facie jurisdiction over the case under CERD Article 22, but opted to use its power to indicate provisional measures [ICJ Article 41 text] to reach each side:

Both Parties, within South Ossetia and Abkhazia and adjacent areas in Georgia, shall
(1) refrain from any act of racial discrimination against persons, groups of persons or institutions;
(2) abstain from sponsoring, defending or supporting racial discrimination by any persons or organizations,
(3) do all in their power, whenever and wherever possible, to ensure, without distinction as to national or ethnic origin,
(i) security of persons;
(ii) the right of persons to freedom of movement and residence within the border of the State;
(iii) the protection of the property of displaced persons and of refugees;
(4) do all in their power to ensure that public authorities and public institutions under their control or influence do not engage in acts of racial discrimination against persons, groups of persons or institutions.
The ruling, which created an international legal obligation with which Russia and Georgia must comply, also called on both sides to facilitate humanitarian assistance in the disputed regions and to refrain from any action which might prejudice the rights of the other party. AFP has more. RIA Novosti has additional coverage.

Georgia instituted [JURIST report] the case in August after Russia sent its military into Georgia in response to a Georgian bid to strike the breakaway South Ossetia region, heavily populated with Russians. Last month Georgia sought [ICJ press release, PDF; JURIST report] emergency orders from the ICJ, arguing that Russia is engaged in ethnic cleansing and has violated the CERD by removing ethnic Georgians from the territories. Russia countered that its military actions have saved lives, and that the ICJ lacked jurisdiction over the case. In August, Russia instituted its own action [JURIST report] against Georgia in the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website], alleging that Georgia committed war crimes against ethnic Russians in South Ossetia. Tensions remain high following Russia's signing of military defense agreements [JURIST report] with South Ossetia and Abkhazia last month. The latest attempt at peace talks between Georgia and Russia broke down [AFP report] Wednesday.

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