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Russia violated the UN Conventions: the court in The Hague announced a historic verdict in Ukraine's lawsuit against Russia

Maryna PohorilkoWorld
The International Court of Justice in The Hague delivered a verdict in Ukraine's case against Russia

On Wednesday, January 31, 2024, the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands, announced a historic verdict in Ukraine's lawsuit against Russia. The case pertained to Moscow's support for terrorists in Donbas and violations of minority rights in Crimea. The court found that Russia had violated certain provisions of the UN Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism by failing to adequately investigate financial support for the separatists in 2014. However, it did not order compensation as requested by Ukraine.

Furthermore, the court declined to issue a specific ruling on Russia's responsibility for the downing of flight MH17 from non-government controlled areas on July 17, 2014, as requested by Kyiv. According to the court's decision, the financing of terrorism, as defined by the Convention, only pertains to the transfer of funds and does not cover the provision of military equipment and weapons to militants. Consequently, the supply of Buk missile systems does not fall under this prohibition.

The court also determined that it does not believe Crimean Tatars and ethnic Ukrainians have been subjected to physical violence by the Russian Federation due to their ethnicity.

Simultaneously, the judges acknowledged that Russia failed to protect the rights of ethnic Ukrainians in Crimea, where the number of students studying in the Ukrainian language had significantly declined. Thus, Russia has breached its obligations under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the court stated.

Radio Liberty reports that it took more than an hour to read the verdict.

Russia violated the UN Conventions: the court in The Hague announced a historic verdict in Ukraine's lawsuit against Russia

The head of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people, Refat Chubarov, stated at the beginning of the hearing that the Russian delegation was not present in the room. However, later, two representatives of the Russian Federation did arrive in court.

"The judges entered the courtroom at 15:04. The session has started. The delegation of Russian representatives is absent... This seems to be a positive signal about the decision," Chubarov wrote.

The lawsuit, filed by Ukraine with the UN court in 2017, asserted that Russia finances and provides weapons to separatists in Donbas, as well as violates the rights of Crimean Tatars in occupied Crimea. The case also referenced the downing of the passenger Boeing flight MH-17 in 2014, resulting in the death of all 298 people on board, and the shooting of a bus in Volnovakha.

Russia violated the UN Conventions: the court in The Hague announced a historic verdict in Ukraine's lawsuit against Russia

The volumes of evidence totaled 17 thousand pages. A panel of 15 judges studied them for several years and on January 30, 2024, issued a final decision that is not subject to appeal. Russia sent only two representatives to the trial in The Hague.

Former Deputy Foreign Minister of Ukraine for European Integration, Lana Zerkal, stated on the eve of the hearing that the court's decision would set a historic precedent.

"Ukraine will receive a legally established right to adequate compensation for violations of these international treaties. The ICJ's decision will also be crucial for the further development and application of international law in the field of combating the financing of terrorism and racial discrimination," the diplomat emphasized.

In the summer of 2014, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry officially notified Russia of its violation of international conventions, which led to a full-scale invasion of Ukraine and a number of war crimes against civilians. Over the next two years, eight rounds of bilateral negotiations took place, after which Ukrainian diplomats concluded that it was impossible to resolve the dispute through negotiations.

Therefore, in its claim to the ICJ, Ukraine stated that:

1. Russia violates the Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism.

2. Russia violates the requirements of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

In June 2023, court hearings were held in this case.

As reported by OBOZ.UA:

– In September 2023, the ICJ began preliminary hearings on Ukraine's second lawsuit against Russia. From September 18 to 27, the court examined the case of Russia's violation of the International Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

– Ukraine's second lawsuit against Russia is unprecedented in that it involves 34 countries and has major consequences. The hearings will focus on the court's jurisdiction and the admissibility of Ukraine's complaint; Moscow has already raised preliminary objections.

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