Ukraine dispatch: ‘Ukraine has won a small legal victory’
International Court of Justice
Ukraine dispatch: ‘Ukraine has won a small legal victory’

Law students and young lawyers in Ukraine are filing reports for JURIST on the latest developments in that country as it defends itself against Russian invasion. Here  Anna Tymoshenko, a fourth-year law student at Kyiv-Mohyla Academy and JURIST’s Chief Correspondent in Ukraine, reports from Poltava.

I’m safe, the situation has not changed except for a growing number of people from Sumy and Kharkiv that have been evacuated here to Poltava. They are in need of food, clothes, and medicine, so a lot of volunteers are involved in providing help. Sometimes it’s heartbreaking to look at thesse people’s eyes, as they are scared and lost. However, some of them are strong enough to join volunteers squads and help with the unloading of humanitarian aid, making camouflage nets, and so on.

By the way, Ukraine has won a small legal victory! As you know, the International Court of Justice has ordered Russia to “immediately suspend the military operations”. However, I have some concerns about this decision.

Firstly, for me as a law student, it was disappointing to see that two judges voted against on the two provisional matters. Those judges are from Russia and China. And it deeply frustrates me that by the nationality of the judges we can predict their decisions even in the most authoritative and respected court in the world. How comes that in the court named after JUSTICE, there are reasons to regard some of the servants of Themis as biased? Unfortunately, politics still comes before law.

Secondly, even though the ICJ rulings are binding under the UN Charter, there are no means of enforcement. Should Russia decide to ignore adopted measures, there are no leverages for us or for the world. Sanctions are already applied, and it’s not probable that any more of them would influence the situation.

My fellow law students and I are debating on the issue of whether Russia will comply with the ruling. Honestly, I believe they already have nothing to lose and, therefore, will not. But some of my friends are much more optimistic. I hope I am wrong.

And thirdly, the Court declined the Ukrainian request to direct Russia on reporting about the implementation “one week after such Order and then on a regular basis to be fixed by the Court”. Therefore, there is no “timetable” for the occupying forces to cease fire and leave our land, while the word “immediately” is not enough as Russia can manipulate the terms.