[JURIST] Attorneys representing the Georgian Republic appeared before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) [official website; JURIST news archive] Monday seeking emergency orders to stop the alleged killing and mass displacement of citizens in the breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia [JURIST news archive]. Georgia argued in opening statements that Russia [JURIST news archives] is engaged in ethnic cleansing, while Russia countered that its military actions have saved lives. The 15-judge court will consider whether it has jurisdiction over the case, which Georgia instituted [JURIST report; ICJ press release, PDF] last month, and whether emergency measures are warranted. Georgia accuses Russia of violating the 1965 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination [text] by removing ethnic Georgians from the territories. The former Soviet republic is seeking an ICJ order that Russia pay compensation, withdraw its troops and allow displaced ethnic Georgians to return home. The ICJ hearings [press release, PDF] continue through Wednesday. AFP has more. AP has additional coverage.
Russia last month instituted its own action [JURIST report] against Georgia in the International Criminal Court (ICC), alleging that Georgia committed war crimes against ethnic Russians in South Ossetia. ICC chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo is reviewing those allegations [JURIST report]. Russia drew international criticism [JURIST report] last month after recognizing the rebel territories' independence, which Western leaders said violated international law. International human rights groups warned of potential war crimes [JURIST report] after Russia sent troops into South Ossetia on August 9 in response to a Georgian military offensive aimed at restoring constitutional order. Violence has been ongoing in the region since it seceded from Georgia in a 1991-92 war.