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UN high court accepts record-breaking support for Ukraine in genocide case 

Thirty-three countries have filed interventions to support Kyiv in its fight against Moscow at the United Nations' highest court, the most ever submitted in a case.

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (CN) — The International Court of Justice announced on Friday that it will accept submissions from more than 30 countries that are backing Ukraine in a legal fight with Russia over what Kyiv says are false accusations of genocide. 

The Hague-based court received interventions last year from a record-breaking 33 countries – including the United States, Canada, Germany, France and Spain – supporting Ukrainian allegations that Russia is violating the Genocide Convention by using fictitious claims of genocide as a pretext for its invasion. 

Judges decided that 32 of the filings will be accepted, rejecting the intervention from the U.S. on the grounds that it has a carve-out for part of the treaty. 

“The Court, by fourteen votes to one, decides that the declarations of intervention are Admissible,” the order states.

Under the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, the 1948 treaty that bans genocide, countries can intervene in cases brought under the treaty that might have legal implications for them. 

Although the various submissions do make arguments about how the outcome of the case may have an impact on the countries, experts view the wave of interest mostly as a show of solidarity with Ukraine.

“It’s a concerted effort to support Ukraine,” Ori Pomson, a researcher in international law at the University of Cambridge, told Courthouse News. 

Many of the interventions are legally similar, although there is some variation, particularly between EU and non-EU states. All but one of the European Union’s 27 member states filed an intervention. Hungary, whose leader Viktor Orbán has close ties with the Kremlin, did not. 

Concerns about the relationship between the far-right politician and Russian President Vladimir Putin are so great that the European Parliament passed a resolution last week calling for Brussels to look into whether Hungary's 2024 EU presidency should move forward. All member states get a turn at the presidency on a rotating basis.

The last time a country wanted to intervene at the ICJ was when New Zealand supported Australia in a 2010 case against Japan over illegal whaling. Australia ultimately prevailed, with the court concluding that a Japanese reach program was really a cover for commercial whaling operations. 

Prior to that, the court last saw a country file an intervention in 1951. 

Russia refused to turn up to hearings in the case in March 2022. Lawyers for Ukraine argue there is no evidence of any genocide and that, by invoking genocide as grounds for the invasion, Russia has itself violated the convention.

A week later, the court granted provisional measures ordering Russia to cease hostilities, which Moscow has ignored. 

On Thursday, Russia told the ICJ that it has great respect for the institution, in a different case involving Ukraine.

“Russia counts on the peaceful settlement of disputes,” Russian Ambassador to the Netherlands Alexander Shulgin said to the judges in the Great Hall of Justice. Russia is fending off allegations dating from 2014 that it illegally financed separatist groups in eastern Ukraine and discriminated against non-Russians in the annexed Crimea region. 

Ukraine has also seen substantial support in other proceedings it has undertaken against Russia. The European Court of Human Rights announced in March that 31 countries and organizations can submit filings backing Ukraine in a case against Russia also stemming from the full-scale invasion. 

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Categories / Civil Rights, Government, International, Politics

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