« Lawyers for Ukraine argued that the International Court of Justice has ‘the power to declare Russia’s actions unlawful’, after accusing Moscow of abusing the Genocide Convention to justify its actions in Donbass, on day two of the latest hearing at the The Hague.
« You can decide that states that tirelessly abuse and misuse a human rights treaty will be held to account, » said Kiev’s representative Anton Korynevych. « You have the power to declare that Russia’s actions are unlawful, that its continued abuses must stop, that your orders must be followed and that Russia must make reparations.”
In bringing the case, Kiev has alleged that Moscow made false claims of ‘genocide’ to justify its intervention in eastern Ukraine in February 2022, before committing ‘grave violations of the human rights’ itself.
« Russia is waging war against my country in the name of this terrible lie that Ukraine is committing genocide against its own people, » Korynevych continued. « This lie is Russia’s pretext for aggression and conquest Russia has presented no credible evidence. »
« In reality, Russia has turned the Genocide Convention on its head. The International community adopted the Genocide Convention to protect. Russia invoked the Genocide Convention to destroy, » he added.
The current hearings do not consider the merits of the case, but only the jurisdiction of the court. Moscow has argued that the ICJ does not have the authority to make a ruling, and that the case is not really about ‘genocide’ but an attempt by Kiev to get a ruling on its decision to take military action.
On Monday, the head of Russia’s legal team Gennady Kuzmin called for the case to be dismissed, describing the hearings as an ‘abuse of process’, and Ukraine’s arguments as ‘hopelessly flawed’.
On Wednesday, 32 of Kiev’s allies will make statements of support. The procedural decision could take months and if judges decide the ICJ can make a ruling, that verdict could be years away.
Both Russian and Ukraine are parties to the 1948 Genocide Convention, which states that all must prevent and punish genocide.
Moscow launched a military offensive in Ukraine in late February 2022 after recognising the independence of the DPR and LPR, claiming that Kiev had failed to guarantee their special status under the 2014 Minsk Agreements, and urging Ukraine to declare itself officially neutral and give assurances that it would never join NATO.
Kiev denounced the Russian action as an invasion. Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky imposed martial law throughout the country, announcing a general mobilisation, while the EU and the US imposed several rounds of sanctions on Moscow. »