By Peter McLaren-Kennedy • 07 March 2022 • 8:09
Ukraine and Russia in World Court over genocide claim
image: google maps - hans straub
A request by Ukraine for the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to issue an emergency ruling requiring Russia to withdraw will be heard today, over claims of genocide.
Ukraine say that the interpretation of the law on genocide by Russia, which they have used to justify the invasion, is incorrect and that the court needs to rule as such.
Court rulings are binding and countries generally follow them, however it has no direct means of enforcing them and is unlikely to deter Moscow in the midst of the invasion.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has said “special military action” is needed “to protect those people who have been subjected to bullying and genocide.” Putin is referring to those in Eastern Ukraine whose first or only language is Russian.
The case being brought by Ukraine says that the claim of genocide is untrue and even if true would not provide legal justification for an invasion.
The case centres on the interpretation of a 1948 treaty on the prevention of genocide, which both countries are signatories to. The treaty names the ICJ as the forum for resolving disputes between signatories.
Ukraine has support from the executive board of the International Association of Genocide Scholars who issued a statement saying that Putin was “misappropriating and misusing the term ‘genocide'”.
The association’s President, Melanie O’Brien, told Reuters: “There is absolutely no evidence that there is genocide going on in Ukraine.”
The ICJ can order fast-track “provisional measures” in a matter of days or weeks to prevent a situation from worsening before it looks at the merits of a case, or whether it has jurisdiction.
Ukraine sought provisional measures from the court in 2014 after Russia’s annexation of Crimea, and the ICJ ordered both sides not to worsen the dispute.
The court hearings start at 10 a.m. (0900 GMT) with Ukraine presenting its genocide case against Russia, with Moscow due to respond on Tuesday.
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Originally from South Africa, Peter is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for the Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news.
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