International court in The Hague calls on Russia to stop aggression in Ukraine

Outside the Peace Palace on Monday. Photo:
Outside the Peace Palace before the hearing. Photo:

The International Court of Justice in The Hague on Wednesday called on Russia to ‘immediately suspend the military operations’ that it had started in Ukraine on February 24.

The vote, by a majority of 13 to two, with Russia and China dissenting, followed an appeal by Ukraine for a fast-track hearing following the start of the invasion.

Ukraine has accused Russia of manipulating the concept of genocide to justify its military aggression and called on the court 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’.

Russian president Vladimir Putin has said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, or what he calls a ‘special military operation’, is to end the ‘genocide of the millions of people who live’ in the Luhansk and Donetsk regions of Ukraine.

The court president Joan Donoghue, said the court did not have ‘evidence substantiating’ Russian allegations of genocide on Ukrainian territory. In addition, she said, it was ‘doubtful’ the Genocide Convention gives any authority for use of force in another state.

The case centres on a treaty from 1948 covering the prevention of genocide, which was signed by both Russia and Ukraine.

The ICJ is the highest UN court for resolving disputes between states and cases usually take years to resolve. However, it does have a fast-track procedure to look at requests for ‘provisional measures’ as Ukraine has requested.

Despite the ruling in Ukraine’s favour, the court has nothing in its power to enforce a ruling. Russia did not attend the hearings.

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