Ukraine institutes ICJ proceedings against Russia
Ukraine institutes ICJ proceedings against Russia

Ukraine instituted proceedings against Russia Saturday before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in Hague in light of Russia’s ongoing attack on Ukraine.

According to Ukraine, the case concerns “a dispute . . . relating to the interpretation, application and fulfilment of the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.”

Ukraine contends that Russia falsely claimed that acts of genocide have occurred in the Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts of Ukraine. It alleged that based on these false claims, Russia recognized the independence of the Luhansk and Donetsk regions and launched a “special military operation” against Ukraine. President Putin has also claimed that NATO countries are supporting the far-right nationalists and neo-Nazis in Ukraine. The operation is supposedly meant to pursue the “de-nazification” of Ukraine, which is currently under a Jewish president.

Ukraine has emphatically denied the occurrence of such genocide and has made the ICJ application “to establish that Russia has no lawful basis to take action in and against Ukraine for the purpose of preventing and punishing any purported genocide.” Ukraine has also accused Russia of “planning acts of genocide in Ukraine” and of “intentionally killing and inflicting serious injury on members of the Ukrainian nationality.” This, according to Ukraine, makes Russia culpable under Article II of the Genocide Convention, which defines genocide as acts committed with “intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.”

In addition to the application, Ukraine has requested the ICJ to indicate provisional measures “in order to prevent irreparable prejudice to the rights of Ukraine and its people and to avoid aggravating or extending the dispute between the parties under the Genocide Convention.”

As per Article 41 of the Statute of the ICJ (Statute), in appropriate circumstances, the court has the power indicate provisional measures necessary to preserve the rights of a party. Notice of the measures must be given to the parties and to the UN Security Council. Article 74 of the ICJ Rules provides that a request for the indication of provisional measures shall have priority over all other cases.

In the LaGrand case, an ICJ dispute between Germany and the US, the ICJ held that provisional measures ordered under Article 41 of the Statute are binding on parties. Once such measures are indicated, an ad hoc committee, composed of three judges, assists the court in monitoring their implementation. In previous instances of the ICJ’s application of the Genocide Convention, provisional measures have included requiring members to take all measures to prevent commission of the crime of genocide and refrain from any acts of genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide, or complicity in genocide.