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182 – Application of the Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (Ukraine vs Russia)

On February 26th, 2022, the Republic of Ukraine filed before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) an application instituting proceedings against the Russian Federation for alleged violations of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (the Convention) to which both countries are parties.

Indeed, Ukraine contends that the allegations of genocide perpetrated against the pro-Russian populations of Donetsk and Luhansk by the Government of Ukraine have no factual basis. These allegations, which served as justification for the “special military operation” launched by Russia on February 23rd, 2022, would only be a pretext to invade Ukrainian territory and would constitute a crime of aggression within the meaning of international law. Ukraine claims that the actions of the Russian military against Ukrainian civilian populations are in direct violation of Russia’s commitments to the Convention against Genocide.

Ukraine accompanied its initial application with a request for the indication of provisional measures, requesting, inter alia, that: 

  • The Russian Federation shall immediately suspend the military operations commenced on February 24th, 2022;
  • The Russian Federation shall immediately ensure that any military or irregular armed units which may be directed or supported by it, as well as any organizations and persons which may be subject to its control, direction or influence, take no steps in furtherance of the military operations;
  • The Russian Federation shall refrain from any action and shall provide assurances that no action is taken that may aggravate or extend the dispute that is the subject of this Application;
  • The Russian Federation shall provide a report to the Court on measures taken to implement the Court’s Order on Provisional Measures.

Public hearings regarding this request were held on March 7th, 2022 despite the fact that the defendant State did not participate in the oral proceedings. Russia sent however a letter outlining the position of its government. The ICJ delivered its order on March 16th, 2022 for the indication of provisional measures and emphasised that Russia’s non-participation had no bearing on the validity of its decision.

The Court must ensure that it has prima facie jurisdiction to hear the case. In this instance, article 9 of the Convention states that the ICJ should have jurisdiction to hear any dispute arising from the interpretation or the implementation of this instrument. Russia grounds however its “special military operation” on article 51 of the UN Charter in order to protect pro-russian populations in the above mentioned territories. The Ukraine denies any allegations of Genocide. According to the documents submitted, the Court concludes that there is indeed:

  •  A dispute between the parties with regards to the interpretation and implementation of the 1948 Convention against Genocide;
  • A plausible right by Ukraine not to be subjected to military operation by the Russian Federation;
  • A connection between this plausible right and the requested measures;
  • A real and imminent risk of irreparable harm and an urgency to act.

Therefore, the ICJ calls on the Federation of Russia to immediately suspend that it commenced on February 24th, 2022 in the territory of Ukraine. Furthermore, the defendant State should ensure that any military or irregular armed units under its control or authority takes no steps in furtherance of  the military operations object to these proceedings. Finally, both parties must refrain from any action taht could aggravate or extend the dispute or make it more difficult to resolve.

Order of 16-03-2022.pdf 

On July 21st, 2022, Latvia filed a declaration of intervention according to article 63 of the ICJ Statute.

This summary is provided for informational purposes only, does not involve the responsibility of Dome and should in no way be used as a substitute for a careful reading of the judgment and order of the case.