ICJ mostly rejects Ukraine claims of Russia discrimination, terrorism financing

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) found Wednesday that Russia failed to investigate Ukrainian claims that Russians were financing terrorism in Ukraine, in violation of Russia’s obligations under Article 9 of the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism (ICSFT).

The ruling’s press release states that the ICJ otherwise rejected requests by Ukraine for a plethora of provisional measures. Ukraine had requested the ICJ declare Russia violated both the ICSFT and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD). Ukraine requested a court order demanding Russia comply with its obligations under both conventions. Ukraine also requested the ICJ to order the prosecution of certain Russian officials, such as Russian Minister of Defense Sergei Shoigu, and further requested reparations for civilian shelling.

The case began in 2017 when Ukraine alleged Russia failed to prevent and suppress terrorism financing, in particular to two entities that refer to themselves as the “Donetsk People’s Republic” and the “Luhansk People’s Republic,” both of which are under de facto control of Russia. Ukraine alleged Russian-backed groups committed a variety of terrorist attacks, including the shoot-down of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17, and the bombing of civilian areas. Ukraine also complained about political and cultural suppression by Russia, especially the forced disappearances of Crimean Tatars, and suppression of Crimean Tatar institutions and language.

The ICJ declared that Russia violated its obligations under Article 9, but did not consider it “necessary or appropriate to grant any of the other forms of relief requested by Ukraine.” The court found that Russia had failed “to take measures to investigate facts contained in information received from Ukraine regarding persons who have allegedly committed an offense set forth in Article 2 of the [ICSFT] and violated its obligation under Article 9.” Article 2 of the ICSFT states that any person who helps fund the offenses listed in the ICSFT, including terrorism, violates the convention. The court also found that Russia “by the way in which it implemented its educational system in Crimea in 2014 violated its obligations under Article 2 of [ICERD].” Article 2 of ICERD requires states to create policies and systems to remove racial discrimination.