Ukraine and Russia face genocide charges at the World Court

FILE PHOTO: Court hearings in case against Myanmar over alleged genocide of Rohingya
FILE PHOTO: A general view of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague, the Netherlands December 9, 2019. REUTERS/Eva Plevier

March 6, 2022

By Stephanie van den Berg

THE HAGUE (Reuters) – Ukraine will on Monday ask the United Nations Supreme Court to issue an emergency ruling ordering Russia to halt its invasion, arguing that Moscow’s justification for the attack rests on a flawed interpretation of genocide law.

Although the court’s judgments are binding and countries generally follow them, it has no direct means of enforcing them.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Russia’s “special military action” was necessary “to protect people who have been subjected to bullying and genocide” – that is, those whose first or only language is Russian – in eastern Ukraine.

Ukraine’s lawsuit argues that the genocide allegation is untrue and in no case provides legal justification for an invasion.

The case she has brought before the World Court of Justice, officially known as the International Court of Justice (ICJ), revolves around the interpretation of a 1948 treaty signed by both countries to prevent genocide. The treaty names the International Court of Justice as the forum for settling disputes between the signatories.

Last week, the board of the International Association of Genocide Scholars released a statement stating that Putin “appropriated and abused the term ‘genocide’.”

“There is absolutely no evidence that genocide is taking place in Ukraine,” the association’s president, Melanie O’Brien, told Reuters.

The Russian Embassy in The Hague did not immediately respond to Reuters questions about the case.

The ICJ can order “provisional measures” on a fast-track basis within days or weeks to prevent the situation from deteriorating before considering the merits of a case or whether it has jurisdiction.

Ukraine petitioned the court for interim measures in 2014 following Russia’s annexation of Crimea, and the ICJ ordered both sides not to escalate the dispute.

Hearings begin at 10:00 (09:00 GMT) with Ukraine presenting its case. Russia is due to reply on Tuesday.

(Reporting by Stephanie van den Berg; Editing by Kevin Liffey) Ukraine and Russia face genocide charges at the World Court

Bobby Allyn

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