I have been following the court case at the United Nations International Court of Justice, brought to hear the allegations of genocide made by the Russian Federation against Ukraine. The case was brought to the UN by Ukraine, when the Russian Federation didn’t present their so called evidence for this genocide to the UN. The Russian lawyers squiggled and squirmed for hours on end trying to avoid having to put up their evidence to back their government’s claims of genocide.
That the Russian Federation’s lawyers have turned up for this hearing, is worth remarking on.
The legal representatives of the Russian Federation are attending this hearing, because of the fact that, unlike the ICC, to which Russia is not a signatory, the Russian Federation is a signatory to the 1958 International Convention on Genocide and the UN Court of Justice where such accusations are heard. Despite this, I expect a walk out by the Russian legal team any day now.
The accusation of genocide made against Ukraine was the ā priōrī for the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
That the Russian Federation does not want to present any evidence of this alleged genocide to the court, speaks volumes.
In 1948 the victorious allied powers, agreed to set up the Court of International Justice, granted with the authority to rule on accusations of genocide. The Russian Federation as the successor to the Soviet Union is still a signatory to UN Court of International Justice.
On February 24, 2022, the day of the full scale Russian military invasion of Ukraine, the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, made a televised address to the world, where he accused the Ukraine government in Kyiv of perpetrating genocide against its people, and gave this allegation of genocide as the reason for the full scale Russian invasion of Ukraine.
“The purpose of this operation is to protect people who, for eight years now, have been facing humiliation and genocide perpetrated by the Kyiv regime,” Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation – February 24, 2022
The government of the Russian Federation could have taken the government of Ukraine to the World Court and revealed to the world their evidence of this alleged genocide but chose not to.
The Russian Federation declined to bring their case against Ukraine of perpetrating genocide, to the World Court, so the government of Ukraine brought the case. In effect Ukraine placed itself in the dock at the World Court to defend themselves from the accusations of genocide, made against Ukraine and its government by the Russian Federation.
Given the opportunity to present their evidence to the world that Ukraine was perpetrating genocide, or even just discriminating against ethnic Russians, the lawyers for the Russian Federation refused to lay this evidence before the Court.
Instead the lawyers for the Russian Federation have sought to have the case thrown out..
The Russian Federation’s lawyer’s argument goes something like this; Ukraine is not charging Russia with committing genocide, (and Russia is not charging Ukraine with committing genocide), so therefore there is no dispute between Russia and Ukraine to be heard.
The Russian Federation’s lawyers took more than two hours to deliver their preliminary address that there was no dispute to be heard. Over and over again, in inventively different and complex ways. jumping through legalistic hoops of tortured logic and long winded sophistry always ending, with the same words each time, ‘there is no dispute’ for the court to hear. The Lawyers for the Russian Federation did spend a bit of their two hour preliminary address, presenting evidence of atrocities committed by Ukrainian fascists during World War 2, The Russian lawyers also presented evidence to the court, of neo-nazi groups existing in Ukraine today. No evidence was presented by the Russian Federation’s lawyers that the government of Ukraine is or had been perpetrating genocide against ethnic Russians or Russian speakers, as alleged by the President of the Russia Federation, and prowar Russian Federation, commentators and state media opinion shapers.
As a rationale for waging war against Ukraine in the 21st Century – war crimes committed more than 78 years ago, and the existence of neo Nazi groups, could just as irrationally be made for launching a war of aggression against modern day Germany, or Italy, or Austria, 78 years after the Second World War.
The Russian lawyers neglected to mention the fact that millions of Ukrainians fought against the German and Ukrainian Nazis, during the same war.
A variation of the argument that there is no dispute to be heard, (because Ukraine claims there was no genocide), the lawyers for the Russian Federation argued at some length, that for Ukraine to attempt to defend themselves from Russia’s allegations of genocide, is an abuse of the UN Court’s judicial process. The Lawyers for the Russian Federation argued before the judges of the World Court that the World Court is only allowed to decide on evidence relating to genocide, and not whether their client, (the Kremlin), had made false allegations of genocide.
The counsel for the Russian Federation argued that only Russia can ask the court to resolve this dispute, and as Russia has not asked the court to do so, there is no dispute for the court to resolve..
Article 9 of the Genocide convention states the opposite, that any party to the dispute can ask the court to resolve it.
Disputes between the Contracting Parties relating to the interpretation, application or fulfilment of the present Convention, including those relating to the responsibility of a state for genocide or for any other acts enumerated in article III, shall be submitted to the International Court of Justice at the request of any of the parties to the dispute.
The legal counsel for the Russian Federation also argued that Ukraine bringing this case to the International Court of Justice “preempts” Russia’s right to bring a case at a time of their own choosing, because according to them “Russia needs time to bring evidence worthy of this esteemed court”
The legal counsel for Ukraine pointed out Russia obviously felt they had enough evidence of genocide to mount a full scale invasion.
“If Russia concluded that it had sufficient evidence to invade another sovereign state, it surely has had ample opportunity to assemble the evidence needed to put before this court”
Russia’s legal team told the court the timing of Ukraine’s case was “abusive”
The lawyers for the Russian Federation argued that Ukraine has “committed an abuse of process” for bringing this case.
Counsel for Ukraine argued that it is not abusive and not even surprising that Ukraine made its application for this case to be heard immediately following the full scale invasion of their country.
In their summary to the Court the Kremlin’s lawyers provided no evidence of the genocide the Kremlin alleged was being committed by Ukraine against ethnic Russians or Russian speakers.
In a sidenote: The apologists for the Russian aggression against Ukraine that infest this website,also steadfastly refuse to present any credible evidence of the genocide or such like atrocities they repeatedly claim has been committed against ethnic Russians or Russian speakers in Ukraine.
Patrick O’Dea is a staunch Unionist and human rights activist