Interview for the Radio «Golos Stolici»
On April 19, the International Court of Justice announced its decision in the case «Ukraine vs. Russian Federation». The court in The Hague will not implement measures against Russia by Kyiv’s request.
According to the opinion of the judges, the evidence of Russia financing terrorism which was provided by Ukraine is insufficient. The court decided that Ukraine has not proven that Russia violated Article 2 of the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism. Namely, no motive of Russia’s financing terrorism actions in the east of Ukraine was indicated.
But the International Court of Justice made a ruling that Russia should remove restrictions of rights of the Crimean Tatars. The court ordered Russia to restore Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People and to stop discrimination against minorities.
Oleksandr Yevsieiev, PhD in Law, the Expert in Program for Reforming of Law Enforcement and Judicial Systems of the Ukrainian Institute for the Future has explained whether such a decision of the UN International Court of Justice is positive for Ukraine on the air at the radio station «Golos Stolici».
How big is the importance of this decision taken in The Hague for Ukraine from the legal perspective?
– I would like to emphasize that as of today the International Court of Justice approved the so-called interim decision. In other words, no negative decision on allowance or refusal of the Ukraine’s appeal in its full, in the whole spectrum of requirements was taken by the International Court yet. Moreover, the final judgment in the case «Ukraine vs. Russian Federation» can take years. For example, in the case «Georgia vs. Russian Federation» the court took three years to make a final decision. The second point is that today the International Court of Justice issued an interim decision in respect of the so-called temporary measures only.
The International Court imposes certain temporary measures on a state – sometimes only on the state defendant before the court, and sometimes on the both state of the claimant and state defendant; and the state or states are committed to fulfill those measures to the point until the court takes its final decision which, again, may take several years. Ukraine requested implementation of such temporary measures against Russia and, indeed, temporary measures against Russia were imposed by the International Court of Justice as according to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), and it is a small interim victory of Ukraine. In particular, the International Court of Justice has approved a resolution that in the future and until the final decision, Russian Federation is obliged to refrain from any discrimination against the Crimean Tatars and, in particular, restore the Majlis; also, in case if Russia has effective control over the Crimea it is obliged to provide education for children in Crimea who wish to study in the Ukrainian language. From this point of view, it is some kind of obligation which was imposed because of today’s decision of the International Court against the Russian Federation.
Is this decision on the Crimean Tatars and Majlis compulsory?
– Any decision of the International Court of Justice, no matter whether it is an interim one for temporary measures, or a final one which decides the case, in essence, is a must; if the state violates this decision, there is a variety of mechanisms which can be activated. However, we must remember that Russia is a member of the UN Security Council; that is why it can basically block any decision taken by the Security Council, including the one with which it will be condemned for failure to abide with the interim temporary measures as according to the International Court’s decisions.
Ukraine failed to prove that Russia is involved in financing terrorism. What prevented Ukrainian lawyers to prepare a sound evidence base, what was not sufficiently finalized or why they did not want to?
– It is necessary to understand two things. Firstly, the International Court of Justice has not completely rejected the Ukraine’s claim to condemn Russia for violation of its obligations under the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism, but only refused to impose temporary measures in accordance with this Convention.
Also, the International Court of Justice, unlike the press, and unlike the international lawyers, does not evaluate the social conflict between Ukraine and Russia as such; it evaluates the situation based on its specific and complicated legal procedures and its case-law, which has developed over 60 years of its functioning. In order to impose temporary measures it was necessary to prove the fact that non-imposition of these temporary measures may cause irreparable damage to Ukraine. In this case, when the war continues for three years already and since some material and cultural values are already destroyed, and we paid 10 thousand lives during this conflict, it in any case cannot be said that the imposition of any temporary measures could help us, so to say, to fill these irreparable losses. Therefore, the International Court specifically mention that in this case the most appropriate way for Ukraine in fighting against terrorist financing is not the involvement of the Russian Federation as respondent according to this Convention, but compliance with the entire spectrum of the Minsk agreements, in which, as it must be noted, Russia does not act as member but only as a mediator.