Ukraine v. Russia: Ambassador speaks of case in UN International Court of Justice
Russia is obliged to comply with the ICJ decisions
That’s according to Ambassador of Ukraine to the Netherlands, Vsevolod Chentsov, who gave an exclusive comment to an Ukrinform correspondent in The Hague.
“First of all, the implementation of the decision of the UN International Court of Justice is Russia’s obligation and responsibility. The Court’s decision is final and binding. The relevant obligation is already enshrined in the Statute of the Court and extends, inter alia, to the Russian Federation. If Ukraine believed that the Court’s decision would not have any weight, we would not have filed this lawsuit. If we talk about the mechanism of control over the implementation of the decision, there is no such thing. The UN International Court of Justice considers disputes between sovereign states that have relevant legal and political obligations to enforce decisions,” he said.
According to the ambassador, the statistics on the execution of international court decisions are more optimistic than may seem.
“In addition, there are many examples of international court decisions being enforced over time. The Russian Federation, too, complied with the decision of the arbitral tribunal in the Arctic Sunrise case a few years after the decision was handed down. It takes courage to enforce a court decision immediately – to admit a mistake and take responsibility. So we’ll see,” said Chentsov.
He also noted that the phase of consideration essentially began immediately after the Court ruled on November 8, 2019, on its jurisdiction in favor of Ukraine.
“The current stage is a written one, that’s where the arguments of the parties are presented in the memorandum and counter-memorandum, respectively. The content of the counter-memorandum remains confidential until oral hearings open. Of course, the Russian Federation will claim that it has put forward arguments against Ukraine’s claims. In turn, the Ukrainian legal team has worked and is working on the case, so we are ready to oppose any arguments of the Russian side with concrete facts and evidence collected, a large number of which has already been submitted to the Court. We have no doubt that the court finds the arguments presented by Russia in its counter-memorandum unfounded,” the diplomat stressed.
Asked when a decision may be made in the case of Ukraine v. Russia at the UN International Court of Justice, Chentsov said it was difficult to make even rough predictions in this category of cases.
“Following the submission of the Russian counter-memorandum, the Secretariat of the Court is expected to consult the parties on the second round of written comments. The case will then be heard, after which the Court will proceed with the decision-making process. In general, taking into account the procedure of the Court, as well as possible restrictions in connection with the pandemic, we can talk about another two to three years for the process to go on, “said Chentsov.
He also explained which issues the UN International Court of Justice will consider for the first time.
“Indeed, possible violations of the provisions of the Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism will be considered by the Court for the first time ever. This is an important international treaty in the field of combating cross-border crime. I am convinced that the international legal community is waiting for the interpretation of the Convention by the UN International Court of Justice. As for the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the Court already has some experience in this regard. At the same time, issues relevant to Ukraine, such as the ban on the Mejlis, have not yet been addressed under the Convention. Russia will have to explain its actions in its counter-memorandum and during oral hearings. This is exactly what the Russian lawyers tried to avoid, claiming that the Court had no jurisdiction,” he stressed.
The diplomat also said that in the context of this precise case, we can say that Ukraine is boldly opening the door to global justice.
“We are suing the Court on issues that are unprecedented and against a permanent member of the UN Security Council. And we have something to say,” Chentsov stressed.
As Ukrinform reported earlier, the Foreign Ministry’s press service said Ukraine would continue to defend its position in the trial at the UN International Court of Justice regarding Russia’s violation of two conventions.
On August 9, 2021, the Russian Federation submitted a Counter-Memorandum to the UN International Court of Justice in a case initiated by Ukraine. In its memorandum submitted on June 12, 2018, Ukraine claims that Russia systematically violates the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.
In November 2019, the UN International Court of Justice ruled that Russia had rejected all previous objections to the Court’s jurisdiction, ruled on Ukraine’s claims on the merits, and ordered Russia to clarify the merits of Ukraine’s claims.
Russia became the first state in the history of the UN International Court of Justice to provide an explanation of the merits of the alleged violations of the two said conventions.
With regard to the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism, Russia must be held accountable for failing to investigate and obstruct the supply of money and weapons to illegal armed groups in eastern Ukraine involved in terrorist acts, namely the downing of an MH17, shelling of civilian population in Volnovakha, Kramatorsk, Mariupol, and Avdiyivka; and organizing a series of explosions during mass peaceful rallies in Kharkiv and other cities.
Regarding the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, Russia must be held responsible for conducting a campaign of cultural destruction against the Crimean Tatar and Ukrainian communities since the onset of occupation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol. In addition, Russia must be held responsible as to why it failed to comply with the interim measures imposed by the Court more than four years ago, including the requirement to remove obstacles to the work of the Mejlis on the peninsula.
On November 8, 2019, the UN International Court of Justice recognized its jurisdiction in the case of Russia’s violation of the two conventions.