The International Court of Justice (ICJ), the highest judicial body in the world, on Wednesday ordered Russia to suspend its military operations in Ukraine, though its orders are not mandatory for defying member nations.
In a vote of 13-2, the decision was to ask the Russian Federation to quickly suspend military operations it started on February 24. “The Russian Federation shall immediately suspend the military operations that it commenced on Feb 24, 2022 in the territory of Ukraine,” the judges said as quoted by Reuters.
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy praised the outcome at the world court and said, “Ukraine gained a complete victory in its case against Russia at the ICJ. The ICJ ordered to immediately stop the invasion. The order is binding under international law. Russia must comply immediately. Ignoring the order will isolate Russia even further”.
On 26 February, Ukraine filed an application against Russia concerning “a dispute” on the interpretation, application and fulfilment of the Genocide Convention. Ukraine contended that having falsely claimed acts of genocide against the people of the Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts, Russia declared and implemented a “special military operation” to prevent and punish the purported acts.
The ICJ asked Russia to immediately suspend its attacks and cease all military operations as they were based on Moscow’s stated purpose of preventing or punishing Ukraine for committing genocide.
The Court also noted that Russia had decided not to participate in oral proceedings and later, presented a document setting out its position that in this case, the Court lacks jurisdiction and requested it to “refrain from indicating provisional measures and to remove the case from its list.”
In delivering the ruling, President of the Court Joan Donoghue of the United States, outlined that the necessary conditions were met to give the ICJ the authority to indicate provisional measures, namely that the rights asserted by Ukraine are plausible and the condition of urgency was met in that acts causing irreparable prejudice can “occur at any moment.”
“Indeed, any military operation, in particular one on the scale carried out by the Russian Federation on the territory of Ukraine, inevitably causes loss of life, mental and bodily harm, and damage to property and to the environment,” said the ICJ President.
On behalf of the world court, she continued, “the civilian population affected by the present conflict is extremely vulnerable,” adding that Russia’s aggression has resulted in “numerous civilian deaths and injuries…significant material damage, including the destruction of buildings and infrastructure”.
“Attacks are ongoing and are creating increasingly difficult living conditions for the civilian population. Many persons have no access to the most basic foodstuffs, potable water, electricity, essential medicines or heating. A very large number of people are attempting to flee from the most affected cities under extremely insecure conditions,” she explained.
The judges were unanimous in their order that both parties refrain from any action that might “aggravate or extend the dispute…or make it more difficult to resolve.”