The International Court of Justice (ICJ) today holds a preliminary hearing on a Ukrainian petition to institute proceedings against Russia.
In its ten-page complaint filed on February 26, Kyiv accuses Moscow of justifying its invasion on false claims that Ukraine’s government has perpetrated “acts of genocide” in the Ukrainian breakaway regions of Luhansk and Donetsk. Ukraine asked the Court to declare that it has not violated the 1948 Genocide Convention—an international agreement that both Russia and Ukraine have signed and ratified—and that the Convention does not permit Russian military action against Ukraine. Ukraine is also demanding reparations.
As Ukraine is merely asking the ICJ to narrowly hold that Russia has no legally tenable grounds to justify its invasion—and is not asking the Court to find that Russia has perpetrated acts of genocide against Ukrainian civilians—Kyiv is likely to be successful on the merits of its case. The effect of its success, however, will be merely symbolic as few if any countries view Russia’s claim of genocide as anything more than pretextual. Nevertheless, a favorable holding will likely further fuel global outrage over the invasion and contribute more to the diplomatic and economic isolation of Russia.
Nick is the Director of the Daily Brief and a contributing Senior Analyst to it. An attorney, his areas of expertise include international law, international and domestic criminal law, security affairs in Europe and the Middle East, and human rights.