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Ukraine Takes Russia to the ICJ

On 17 January 2017, the Ukraine filed a lawsuit against Russia with the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for violations of the International Convention for the Suppressions of the Financing of Terrorism (Terrorism Financing Convention) and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD). The dispute arises from Russia’s annexation of Crimea from the Ukraine in March 2014. Interestingly, the Ukraine have chosen not to question Russia’s use of force in the annexation, but rather issues pertaining to financing and abetting terrorism and racial discrimination. A similar parallel can be drawn from the 2008 dispute between Georgia and Russia regarding the breakaway of the republic of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Georgia submitted a lawsuit against Russia in front of the ICJ for violations of the CERD. Accordingly, these violations did not go to the heart of the dispute, avoiding any attempt to hold Russia responsible for its use of force.

The ICJ’s jurisdiction in contentious proceedings is subject to State consent. Given that Russia does not consider the ICJ as a compulsory jurisdiction, any party attempting to bring a claim against them must rely on a treaty that considers the ICJ as a means of judicial recourse. The Ukraine submits that Russia has, by military intervention and terrorism financing, violated the human rights of many Ukrainian people. It will be left to the ICJ to consider whether Russia breached international law when annexing Crimea from the Ukraine.

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