Today the International Court of Justice (ICJ) heard arguments by Ukraine addressing Russia’s claims of genocide in Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts of Ukraine, a claim Russia is using as justification for its invasion of Ukraine. The ICJ is the principal legal body of the United Nations.
The hearings come after Ukraine filed against the Russian Federation under the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.
Western University expert Valerie Oosterveld says this is an “unprecedented” situation where the country being accused is the one coming forward to the court.
“Ukraine is looking to demonstrate that Russia’s claims of genocide are baseless, allowing for provisional measures from the court ordering Russia to stop its military actions in Ukraine,” says Oosterveld, professor in Western’s Faculty of Law.
“The ICJ recognizes the urgency of the situation in Ukraine and can make a relatively fast order, if it is convinced by Ukraine’s arguments. If Russia does not respond, then it will be in violation of a binding ICJ order.”
Oosterveld is the associate director of Western University’s Centre for Transitional Justice and Post-Conflict Reconstruction. Her research and writing focus on international criminal law, including with respect to genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. She is also a member of the Canadian Partnership for International Justice.
Commentary reflects the perspective and scholarly interest of Western faculty members and is not an articulation of official university policy on issues being addressed.
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