Hague Court ruled on Ukraine case against Russia: What does this mean?
International Court of Justice handed down an interim judgment on the suit of Ukraine against the Russian Federation. One of Ukraine’s claims was satisfied
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Ukraine sued the International Court of Justice in January this year. The suit is filed under the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.
It said that the Russian Federation violated the Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism by providing weapons and other forms of assistance to militants. Kyiv also accused the Russian Federation of violating the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, in particular the communities of ethnic Ukrainians and Crimean Tatars.
At the same time, the Russian Foreign Ministry said that these were "politicized accusations" and they went beyond the jurisdiction of the court.
In addition, Ukraine appealed to the International Court of Justice with a request to introduce temporary measures aimed at preventing further violations of human rights by the Russian Federation during the trial.
April 19, the court announced an interim decision on this claim. First of all, the court recognized that it has jurisdiction "prima facie" for consideration on the suit of Ukraine against Russia.
However, after that, the chairman of the institution Ronnie Abraham said that the UN court recognized as insufficient evidence of Ukraine on the financing of terrorism by Russia. Thus, the International Court of Justice denied temporary measures against Russia under the Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism.
"The court concluded that the conditions that are necessary for determining additional measures with respect to rights violated in Ukraine on the basis of the Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism do not meet the requirements," the judge announced.
At the same time, the court granted Kiev's request for provisional measures for a suit against Russia under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. Judge Abraham said that the interim measures for the suit would be formulated in a different (from that proposed by Ukraine) way.
The decision says that, before making a final decision on the case, the RF should refrain from infringing the rights of the Crimean Tatars, enabling them to retain their representative institutions, including the Mejlis, and to provide access to education in the Ukrainian language in Crimea.
The court also recalled that Ukraine and Russia signed the "Minsk agreements," and they must make individual and joint efforts to ensure their full implementation in order to achieve a peaceful settlement of Donbas conflict.
Now about the consequences. The decision of the International Court of Justice would be more symbolic than practical. It should be noted that Article 94 of the UN Charter provides that court decisions are binding for implementation. But the second paragraph of the same article says that if a party does not comply with a decision, then the UN Security Council intervenes in the matter and takes measures to ensure that it does begin to implement them. Russia in the Security Council has the right of veto. This right was used by the US.
In 1986, under the suit of Nicaragua against the United States, the judges ruled that Washington's military operations in the territory of Nicaragua were aggression and contradicted the principle of international law on the refusal to use force against other states. It had no consequences for the US, since the drafts of the relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council were doomed to failure because of Washington's veto. If Russia lost, it could take an example of Washington.
The decision of the UN court is just a passing of a qualified opinion, recommendations that are based on international law. "The decision of the UN court will have the character of qualified recommendations that have some international authority," said Volodymyr Volya, an expert in international affairs at the Ukrainian Institute for Policy Analysis and Management.
But the court ordered Ukraine to fulfill a certain decision. This, of course, is about Minsk agreements. If Kyiv does not fulfill them, the Kremlin might apply to the United Nations to force Kyiv to do it. Ukraine is a member of the Security Council now, but it does not have the right to veto. Therefore, this court decision may have legal consequences. In addition, if Russia is not recognized as a sponsor of terrorism in the final decision of the International Court of Justice, it is unlikely that some other court will bring such a charge.
Ukraine is still preparing a lawsuit against Russian President Vladimir Putin and his closest associates in the International Criminal Court (ICC), which is also situated in The Hague. It was created to investigate genocides, war crimes and crimes against humanity. However, last year Putin said that his country had not ratified the Rome Statute, according to which the ICC is working, and that means that Russia would not recognize the decisions of this instance.
The situation is further aggravated by the fact that Ukraine has not yet ratified the document. Ukraine also filed five lawsuits in the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). They concern the occupation of Donbas, human rights violations in Crimea, and the ban on Mejlis. The last lawsuit concerns the kidnapping of Ukrainian children by the border guards of the Russian Federation (they have let the bus with the children from Donbas for supposedly improving their health in the Russian Federation). At the same time, the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation in 2016 ruled that the ECHR decisions have the last word behind it, which means that Russia can deny fulfilling them.