Neither a win nor a loss. Comment by the Center for Civil Liberties on the judgment of the International Court of Justice in the case of Ukraine v. Russia

On January 31, the International Court of Justice issued a ruling in the case of Ukraine v. Russia on the financing of terrorism and discrimination. This decision can be called neither a win for Ukraine nor a loss. The case concerned events before Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

  • The court recognized Russia’s violation of the Terrorist Financing Convention.
  • The court recognized that Russia discriminates against Ukrainians in Crimea.
  • The court also found that Russia had violated the court’s provisional measures to avoid actions to worsen the situation.
  • The court did not impose any “punishment” on Russia, but Russia  is now required to change the education system in Crimea to ensure that Ukrainian is taught. And in this case, Ukraine should “put pressure”.

The court dismissed some of Ukraine’s allegations because they were unproven. And in this regard, this is a distinct failure of Ukraine. From the point of view of human rights protection, the worst part of this is the dismissal of Ukraine’s complaints about discrimination against the Crimean Tatar people and the Mejlis. All of this creates the preconditions for continued repression in Crimea, and it will be difficult for Ukraine to raise this issue on the international stage. However, it is necessary to continue doing so, to look for and collect evidence. Unfortunately, the authorities are not working very actively to do this, and the public is not active enough.

There are no overtly negative consequences of this judgment. Ukraine has not lost anything. It is rather that our expectations have not been met. Ukraine should not abandon further legal struggle, but prepare more thoroughly and establish better collection of evidence of human rights violations and crimes committed by the Russian Federation in Ukraine. That way, there will be victories.

The full text of the judgment is available here.

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