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ICJ rejects Ukraine’s 2016 cases accusing Russia of terrorism

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Picture: Nicolas Economou / NurPhoto / NurPhoto via AFP – Night view of the illuminated building of the Peace Palace, which houses the International Court of Justice, which is the principal judicial body of the United Nations, the Permanent Court of Arbitration PCA, The Hague Academy of International Law and the Peace Palace Library. Ukraine had accused Russia of providing funding to the anti-Kyiv movement in Donbass region calling it “terrorism” and discriminating against Tatar and Ukrainian minorities in annexed Crimea.

By Peoples Dispatch

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague on Wednesday January 31 nearly rejected all of the cases filed by Ukraine against Russia in 2016. The court did not find enough evidence to prove that Russia had violated the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism, one of Ukraine’s primary accusations.

The court held that there is nothing to prove Ukraine’s allegation that Russia had been financing “terrorism” inside Ukraine and declined to term Russia as a “terrorist state” as Ukraine demanded. The court observed only financial or monetary transactions are considered in the convention and there is no proof of Russia providing cash to parties involved in Donbass conflict.

The court, however, observed that Russia has not conducted enough investigation to find out if there was any financing to terrorism from the country and instructed it to do the same.

Nevertheless, the court rejected the Ukrainian demand for compensation for all civilians caught in conflict between separatist forces in the Donbass region since the war broke out in the region in 2014.

Ukraine also wanted Russia to provide compensation for the victims of Malaysian airlines flight MH17 which was shot down during the conflict over eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014 allegedly by separatist forces in the region. All 298 passengers and crew members on board were killed.

The court declined to rule on the responsibility of the attack.

The UN court also rejected Ukrainian allegations of Russia practicing racial discrimination against Tatar and Ukrainian minorities in Crimea. However, it observed that Russia breached some parts of the treaty by not providing adequate education opportunities in Ukrainian language in the region annexed by it in 2014.

Eastern Ukraine or the Donbass region is made of Donetsk and Luhansk provinces and has a majority Russian-speaking population. They had been waging a war against the Ukrainian government in Kyiv since the Maidan coup in 2014, which deposed president Victor Yanukovich.

The Donbass forces have accused Kyiv of discrimination and oppression against Russian-speaking minorities.

Ukraine has also called the Russian annexation of Crimea illegal and accused it of discriminating against the Ukrainian-speaking people there and claimed it violated the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (1965).

Alleging Ukraine of violating the Minsk agreements, Russia started a “special operation” inside the territory on February 24, 2022. Its operation inside Ukraine followed the declaration of independence by the Donbass republics from Ukraine.

Since then the war inside Ukraine continues with Russia now controlling most of the territories of both the republics. It has also annexed Ukrainian provinces of Zoporozhye and Kherson in its south-eastern part.

The attempts to find a negotiated settlement to the war have been scuttled by the US and NATO member countries which have continued to supply weapons and other support to Ukraine pressing it to keep on fighting.

The ICJ is yet to rule on Ukrainian accusation on Russia falsely applying UN’s 1948 genocide convention to justifying its invasion of Ukraine in 2022. It is likely that the ICJ will pronounce the judgment in the case on Friday.

The ICJ verdict is binding and enforceable by the UN Security Council.

This article was first published on Peoples Dispatch