Russia-Ukraine crisis: Ukraine moves International Court of Justice against Russia

Ukraine moved to the International Court of Justice against Russia.


The Application concerned a dispute between Ukraine and the Russian Federation relating to the interpretation, application and fulfilment of the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. As Ukraine further explained below, the Russian Federation has falsely claimed that acts of genocide have occurred in the Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts of Ukraine, and on that basis recognized the so-called “Donetsk People’s Republic” and “Luhansk People’s Republic,” and then declared and implemented a “special military operation” against Ukraine with the express purpose of preventing and punishing purported acts of genocide that have no basis in fact. On the basis of this false allegation, Russia is now engaged in a military invasion of Ukraine involving grave and widespread violations of the human rights of the Ukrainian people. Ukraine emphatically denied that any such genocide has occurred and brought the Application to establish that Russia has no lawful basis to take action in and against Ukraine for the purpose of preventing and punishing any purported genocide.

Russia has turned the Genocide Convention on its head making a false claim of genocide as a basis for actions on its part that constitute grave violations of the human rights of millions of people across Ukraine. Russia’s lie is all the more offensive, and ironic, because it appears that it is Russia planning acts of genocide in Ukraine. Russia is intentionally killing and inflicting serious injury on members of the Ukrainian nationality the actus reus of genocide under Article II of the Convention. These acts must be viewed together with President Putin’s vile rhetoric denying the very existence of a Ukrainian people, which is suggestive of Russia’s intentional killings bearing genocidal intent. 

Legal grounds of Ukraine’s claims

Ukraine claimed that the Russian Federation’s declaration and implementation of measures in or against Ukraine in the form of a “special military operation” declared on 24 February 2022 on the basis of alleged genocide, as well as the recognition that preceded the military operation, is incompatible with the Convention and violates Ukraine’s right to be free from unlawful actions, including military attack, based on a claim of preventing and punishing genocide that is wholly unsubstantiated.

It is further contended that the duty to prevent and punish genocide enshrined in Article I of the Convention necessarily implies that this duty must be performed in good faith and not abused, and that one Contracting Party may not subject another Contracting Party to unlawful action, including armed attack, especially when it is based on a wholly unsubstantiated claim of preventing and punishing genocide. 

Relief sought 

Ukraine respectfully requested the Court to adjudge and declare that, contrary to what the Russian Federation claims, no acts of genocide, as defined by Article III of the Genocide Convention, have been committed in the Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts of Ukraine. 

It is further requested to adjudge and declare that the Russian Federation cannot lawfully take any action under the Genocide Convention in or against Ukraine aimed at preventing or punishing an alleged genocide, on the basis of its false claims of genocide in the Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts of Ukraine. 

Ukraine added that the court shall adjudge and declare that the “special military operation” declared and carried out by the Russian Federation on and after 24 February 2022 is based on a false claim of genocide and therefore has no basis in the Genocide Convention. 

It is also requested that the Russian Federation provide assurances and guarantees of nonrepetition that it will not take any unlawful measures in and against Ukraine, including the use of force, on the basis of its false claim of genocide.

Ukraine designated Mr. Anton Korynevich as its agent, and Ms. Oksana Zolotaryova, as its co-agent.

Ukraine stated that the Court has found it appropriate to indicate provisional measures in circumstances that are “unstable and could rapidly change,” and when there is “ongoing tension” without any “overall settlement to an ongoing conflict.”

The current Russian aggression against Ukraine also must be observed against the backdrop of years-long Russian support for illegal armed groups in eastern Ukraine, who have targeted civilians and committed acts of terror, as well as its illegal occupation of Crimea which has involved a campaign of racial discrimination and other human rights abuses. The Ukrainian people are vulnerable and in need of the Court’s protection, and the urgency of the situation is apparent. 

Title: Ukraine v/s Russian Federation

Click here to read the Application Instituting Proceedings Submitted by Ukraine

Click here to read the Request for the Indication of Provisional Measures 

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