UARU
ICJ Case: Ukraine vs. Russian Federation, Explained
7 March, 2017

What You Need To Know:

 On January 16th, 2017, Ukraine filed a claim with the International Court of Justice requesting the court to initiate proceedings against Russia;
 Ukraine is accusing Russia of violating the convention on the suppression of financing terrorism, and international convention on elimination
on all forms of racial discrimination;
 Ukraine wants not just for the court to order Russia to stop financing terrorists or to stop violating the rights of Crimean Tatars, but also the highest judicial authority within the UN system to recognize that Russia is financing the terrorist in eastern Ukraine, and indeed is violating Human rights of the Crimean Tatars in Crimea.
 There are currently 5 cases in European Court of Human Rights, Euromaidan case in International Criminal Court and numerous international commercial arbitrations.

Hromadske's correspondent Volodymyr Solohub explains a game-changing lawsuit Ukraine has been initiated against Russia from the ground.

 

Hague, Netherlands. 06/03/2017. Photo credit: Oleksandr Maksymenko

On January 16th, 2017, Ukraine filed a claim with the International Court of Justice requesting the court to initiate proceedings against Russia. In this claim, Ukraine is accusing Russia of violating the convention on the suppression of financing terrorism, and international convention on elimination on all forms of racial discrimination. When filing this claim Ukraine has also requested the court to also order the preliminary measures. In particular, what Ukraine is saying is that Russia is providing the financing, weaponry, ammunition, and training to certain groups in eastern Ukraine which commits terrorist acts and their terrorist activities, obviously referring to the so-called 'DNR', "LNR' and the Kharkiv rebels and other groups. These hearings which started here in The Hague on March 16th are the hearings on initiating the hearings of the court of these provisional measures.


We are already on the hearings on the institution of provisional measures. They will last for four days. They started on March 6th with Ukraine presenting their argument, and on March 7th Russia presenting their arguments. Over the next two days the parties will respond to the arguments and claims presented to each other.  Basically what Ukraine is requesting in the court, is to order Russia to stop violating the two conventions which I mentioned earlier. The convention on the prohibition to financing terrorism and suppression on all forms of racial discrimination. When we were talking to Ukraine's delegation yesterday we understood, and it seems like Ukraine's delegation also understands that in practical terms this will most likely mean nothing. But if the court takes Ukraine's position, ordering Russia with these provisional measures, this will most likely have a huge Diplomatic and International meaning for Ukraine.

 

Hague, Netherlands. 06/03/2017. Photo credit: Oleksandr Maksymenko

What Ukraine wants basically, is not just for the court to order Russia to stop financing terrorists or to stop violating the rights of Crimean Tatars, but Ukraine wants the highest judicial authority within the UN system to recognize, and, make it clear that Russia is financing the terrorist in eastern Ukraine, and indeed is violating Human rights of the Crimean Tatars in Crimea.

And again as we discussed with the Ukraine delegation, this will give Ukraine additional diplomatic tools and additional means for pressuring Russia by the international community, if they get this high judicial authority from the International Court of Justice to rule in favor of Ukraine.

These hearings will last for four days and then the judges will start to deliberate. The exact time and how long this will take is not yet known, in practice this could take from several weeks to several months. We should also keep in mind that Ukraine should not be too optimistic when expecting the court to rule in favor of Ukraine in these provisional measures. The most glaring example of the courts negligence [if you wish] is a similar case was in 1993. Bosnia and Herzegovina were asking the International Court of Justice to order Serbia and Montenegro to refrain from similar activities, the same as Ukraine is now asking the court to do, and prevent crimes against humanity and crimes of genocide. We all know too well that the court did request and did rule in favor of Bosnia and Herzegovina in that matter, but within two years the grave massacre in Srebrenitsa took place. This court's order did not help with Bosnia and Herzegovina.

 

Hague, Netherlands. 06/03/2017. Photo credit: Oleksandr Maksymenko

But again Ukraine is hoping that this order will help in diplomatic areas and on the international arena to pressure Russia even more.

The ICJ is not the first International Court were Ukraine is trying to get justice from Russia, but it is by far the latest and the most significant one. There are currently, if, we were talking about other court systems, currently 5 cases [Interstate cases] in the European Court of Human Rights court of human rights with Ukraine versus Russia, the first one was filed as early as the February 2014, when the so-called ‘Little Green Men’ first appeared in Crimea. Right now there are 5 cases like these, and Ukraine is preparing the sixth case which they expect to file around April or May this year. There is also an International Criminal Court were Ukraine has submitted to the jurisdiction of the International Court all events that took part on the territory of Ukraine starting from November 22nd, 2013, that's when the Euromaidan protests started in Kyiv. Right now this is on the preliminary examinations phase were the International Prosecutor is looking into the details, and deciding whether a criminal case can be opened. There are also numerous international commercial arbitration were Ukraine fully owned enterprises, such as ‘Naftogas’ who have legal battles with ‘Gasprom’ in Stockholm, Oschadbank is suing Russia for 1 billion USD for losses of business and assets due to the annexation of  Crimea.  Recently PrivatBank has a similar case against Russia not only here in the Hague but as well in Stockholm. So you can see Ukraine is fighting these legal battles on all possible fronts. One other case that has come to mind is the World Trade Organization in February Ukraine initiated proceedings with a trade dispute in the WTO. So as you can see the numerous legal and other instances are trying to be resolve between Ukraine and Russia.

 

Hague, Netherlands. 06/03/2017. Photo credit: Oleksandr Maksymenko

As I have already briefly mentioned Ukraine has requested the International Criminal Court to initiate proceedings. And Ukraine has submitted to the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court which is also located here at The Hague. Ukraine has signed, but not ratified statutes, which is also one of the legal technicalities. Right now the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court is looking into 3 different instances, 3 different events, namely, the killing of protesters at the Euromaidan in Kyiv, the events happening in Crimea and the also the armed activities happening in eastern Ukraine. The end of last year when the prosecutor was issuing her annual report on the preliminary investigations, the prosecutor concluded that Russia is behind a lot of the alleged crimes which have been committed in eastern Ukraine, and the annexation of Crimea could have amounted to the aggression on the side of Russia. Immediately after the release of this, Russia retracted its signature under the Rome statute, thus claiming that the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court, and that of Russia would not fall under their jurisdiction. Nevertheless, the prosecutor of the ICC is still looking into the matter, she is still reviewing the facts and the documents that the Ukrainian Government and the Ukrainian NGO’s are providing to the ICC. In fact a mission of the ICC is expected to come to Ukraine.