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Ukraine asks World Court to dismiss Russia“s objection, hear genocide case in full


Ambassador-at-Large of the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Anton Korynevych, Director General for International Law of the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Oksana Zolotaryova and Russian Ambassador to Netherlands, Alexander Vasilievich Shulgin, Russia’s Ambassador-at-Large Gennady Kuzmin, Russian Deputy Permanent Representative to the U.N. Maria Zabolotskaya attend a hearing as Russia begins presenting its objections against the jurisdiction of the World Court in a genocide case brought by Ukraine which claims Moscow falsely applied genocide law to justify its February 24, 2022 invasion, in The Hague, Netherlands, September 18, 2023. REUTERS/Piroschka van de Wouw

Ukraine on Wednesday urged judges at the U.N.’s highest court to dismiss Russia’s objections and hear in full Kyiv’s claim that Moscow abused international law by saying the 2022 invasion was done to stop an alleged genocide.

“The court should promptly dismiss Russia’s preliminary objections and schedule a hearing on the merits,” Harold Koh, a lawyer for Ukraine, said.

Last week Russia urged the ICJ, also known as the World Court, to throw out the case, claiming Kyiv’s legal arguments were flawed.

Ukraine brought the case before the ICJ days after the Russian invasion on Feb. 24 last year.

Kyiv argues Russia is abusing international law by saying the invasion was justified to stop an alleged genocide in eastern Ukraine.

Ukraine says there was no risk of genocide in eastern Ukraine, where it had been fighting Russian-backed forces since 2014.

Koh said the court should dismiss Russia’s claim the court has no jurisdiction because the central issue is not genocide but use of force, which the ICJ has no jurisdiction over.

Instead the court should focus on what Koh called the real issue before it: “May a powerful state falsely accuse its neighbour of genocide (and) then use illegal force to kill its citizens, devastate their homeland and destabilise the global legal order all on the pretext of preventing and punishing genocide?”

Russia has so far ignored a preliminary ruling by the ICJ in March last year which ordered Moscow to stop its military actions and the court has no way of enforcing its decisions. Experts say a full ruling in favour of Ukraine can pave the way for compensation payments.

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