The International Court of Justice (ICJ) issued an order Wednesday demanding that Russia “immediately suspend” its military actions in Ukraine.
Ukraine filed a request for provisional measures last month. Provisional measures are emergency actions that bind and “create international legal obligations” for any parties involved in a dispute. To pass temporary measures, the court first established its jurisdiction over the present conflict. Russia and Ukraine are parties to the Genocide Convention, a UN treaty that requires States to submit disputes “relating to the responsibility of a State for genocide” to the ICJ.
Next, the court ensured that Ukraine has a “plausible” right at stake under the Convention. Ukraine seeks provisional measures to protect its right “not to be subjected to another State’s military operations on its territory based on a brazen abuse” of the Genocide Convention. According to the Convention, a State commits genocide if it acts with “intent to destroy” a “national, ethnical, racial or religious group” by killing or harming the group, preventing births within the group, removing children from the group, or imposing conditions on the group meant to “bring about its physical destruction.” The court found Ukraine’s asserted right plausible and found a link between the right and Ukraine’s requested provisional measures.
The ICJ also found “real and imminent risk” to Ukraine’s asserted rights, enabling the court to make provisional three measures. First, Russia must halt the military operation it started in Ukraine last month. Second, Russia must prevent all military personnel from furthering military operations in Ukraine. Third, Ukraine and Russia must not take any action “which might aggravate or extend the dispute before the ICJ or make it more difficult to resolve.”
Russia chose not to participate in proceedings held earlier this month. However, the ICJ noted that non-participation of a party does not, “in any circumstances, affect the validity of [the court’s] decision.”
Volodymyr Zelenskyy, President of Ukraine, called the order a “complete victory” and demanded that Russia “comply immediately. Ignoring the order will isolate Russia even further.”