Ukraine, allies battle Russian bid to have genocide case tossed out of United Nations' top court

Ukraine, allies battle Russian bid to have genocide case tossed out of United Nations' top court

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — Ukraine’s legal battle against Russia over allegations of genocide used by Moscow to justify its 2022 invasion resumes Monday at the United Nations’ highest court, as Russia seeks to have the case tossed out.

Hearings at the International Court of Justice, also known as the Word Court, will see Ukraine supported by a record 32 other nations in a major show of support.

Kyiv launched the case shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine, arguing that the attack was based on false claims of acts of genocide in the Luhansk and Donetsk regions of eastern Ukraine and alleging that Moscow was planning genocidal acts in Ukraine. It wants the court to order Russia to halt its invasion and pay reparations.

Filing its case last year, Ukraine said that “Russia has turned the Genocide Convention on its head — making a false claim of genocide as a basis for actions on its part that constitute grave violations of the human rights of millions of people across Ukraine.”

Ukraine brought the case to the Hague-based court based on the 1948 Genocide Convention, which both Moscow and Kyiv have ratified. In an interim ruling in March 2022, the court ordered Russia to halt hostilities in Ukraine, a binding legal ruling that Moscow has flouted as it presses ahead with its devastating attacks on Ukrainian towns and cities.

Hearings this week are expected to see lawyers for Russia argue that the court does not have jurisdiction to hear the case, while Ukraine will call on judges to press ahead to hearings on the substance of its claims.

In an unprecedented show of international support for Kyiv, 32 of Ukraine’s allies including Canada, Australia and every European Union member nation except Hungary will also make statements in support of Kyiv’s legal arguments. The United States asked to participate on Ukraine’s side, but the U.N. court’s judges rejected the U.S. request on a technicality.

The court’s panel of international judges will likely take weeks or months to reach a decision on whether or not the case can proceed. If it does, a final ruling is likely years away.

The International Court of Justice hears disputes between nations over matters of law, unlike the International Criminal Court, also based in The Hague, that holds individuals criminally responsible for offenses including war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The ICC has issued a war crimes arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin, accusing him of responsibility for the abduction of Ukrainian children. / AP

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