Russia snubs UN court hearings in case brought by Ukraine
The Hague: A representative for Kyiv urged the United Nations’ top court on Monday to order Russia to halt its devastating invasion of Ukraine, at a hearing snubbed by Russia amid its ongoing assault on its neighbour.
Ukrainian representative Anton Korynevych told judges at the International Court of Justice: “Russia must be stopped and the court has a role to play in stopping it.” Ukraine has asked the court to order Russia to “immediately suspend the military operations” launched Feb. 24 “that have as their stated purpose and objective the prevention and punishment of a claimed genocide” in the separatist eastern regions of Luhansk and Donetsk.
Korynevych dismissed that genocide claim by Moscow as a “horrible lie.”
He said: “The fact that Russian seats are empty speaks loudly. They are not here in this court of law. They are on a battlefield waging aggressive war against my country.”
A decision is expected on the request within days.
If the court were to order a halt to hostilities, “I think the chance of that happening is zero,” said Terry Gill, a professor of military law at the University of Amsterdam. He noted that if a nation does not abide by the court’s order, judges could seek action from the United Nations Security Council, where Russia holds a veto.
Russia’s seats at the Great Hall of Justice in the court’s Peace Palace headquarters were empty for the hearing.
The court’s president, American judge Joan E. Donoghue, said Russia’s ambassador to the Netherlands informed judges that “his government did not intend to participate in the oral proceedings.”
The request for so-called provisional measures is linked to a case Ukraine has filed based on the Genocide Convention. Both countries have ratified the 1948 treaty, which has a clause allowing nations to take disputes based on its provisions to the Hague-based court.
“Ukraine emphatically denies that any such genocide has occurred, and that the Russian Federation has any lawful basis to take action in and against Ukraine for the purpose of preventing and punishing genocide,” the country said in its claim to the court.
Ukraine’s nine-page legal filing launching the case argues that “Russia has turned the Genocide Convention on its head” by making a false claim. It adds that “Russia’s lie is all the more offensive, and ironic, because it appears that it is Russia planning acts of genocide in Ukraine.”
The success of Ukraine’s request will depend on whether the court accepts it has “prima facie jurisdiction” in the case, which is not a guarantee that the court ultimately would proceed with the suit. Cases at the International Court of Justice typically take years to complete.
Regardless of the outcome of the hearings, they give Ukraine another platform to air grievances about Moscow’s invasion.
“It’s part of, I think, an overall diplomatic strategy to try to put maximum pressure on Russia,” said Gill.