Ukraine insisted Tuesday that the UN’s top court has jurisdiction to hear a case accusing Russia of abusing the genocide convention to justify last year’s devastating invasion.
Ukraine wants judges at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to order Russia to stop its attacks and pay compensation. But it seems Moscow will not comply. Russia has violated a temporary order issued by the court in March last year to end its invasion. “Russia’s defiance is also an attack on the authority of this court. Every missile Russia fires at our cities is defiance of this court,” the leader of Ukraine’s legal team, Anton Korynevych, told the panel of 16 judges.
Kyiv filed a lawsuit that Russia invaded Ukraine. They argued that the attacks were based on false claims of acts of genocide in the Luhansk and Donetsk regions of eastern Ukraine. “Russia is waging war against my country in the name of the big lie that Ukraine is committing genocide against its own people,” Korynevych said. “This lie is Russia’s pretext for aggression and conquest. Russia has provided no reliable evidence. They can’t do it. In reality, Russia has ignored the Genocide Convention.”
Russia expressed its objection to the case on Monday. The head of the Moscow legal team, Gennady Kuzmin, called it “deeply flawed and contrary to the court’s long-standing jurisprudence.”
Ukrainian agent Anton Korynevych, ambassador to Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, speaks to judges at the World Court in The Hague, Netherlands, Tuesday, September 19, 2023. (AP/Peter Dejong)
Ukraine’s case is based on the 1948 Genocide Convention, which was ratified by Kyiv and Moscow. The Convention contains a provision that states that have disputes based on its provisions can bring those disputes to the ICJ. Russia denies there is a dispute, but Ukraine rejects that position.
The ICJ adjudicates disputes between states, unlike the International Criminal Court (ICC), also based in The Hague, which holds individuals criminally responsible for offenses including war crimes and crimes against humanity.
In March, the ICC issued a war crimes arrest warrant against Russian President Vladimir Putin, accusing him of responsibility for kidnapping Ukrainian children.
In an unprecedented show of international solidarity, 32 of Ukraine’s allies will make a statement on Wednesday in support of Kyiv’s legal arguments.
The international panel of judges at the ICJ will likely take weeks or months to reach a decision on whether the case can proceed or not. If so, a final decision will probably be made in the next few years.
In his opening statement, Korynevych outlined what was at stake for his country, and told the judge that “573 days ago, Russia launched a brutal, full-scale military attack against Ukraine. This is a war of extermination. Russia denies the existence of the Ukrainian people. And wants to wipe us off the map .” (ab/ka)