Ukraine v. Russian Federation - application of the international convention for the suppression of the financing of terrorism and of the international convention on the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination

On the 16th January 2017, Ukraine filed an application to take Russia to the International Court of Justice (“the Court)” on the grounds of alleged violations of articles in two treaties:

Full application and summary of the Court.

Alleged violations of the ICSFT by Russia according to Ukraine:

  • Violation of Article 18: Supplying funds to illegal armed groups that engage in acts of terrorism.
  • Violation of Article 8 and 18: Failing to take measures to detect, freeze and seize funds to assist illegal armed groups that engage in acts of terrorism.
  • Violation of Article 9, 10, 11 and 18: Failing to investigate, prosecute or extradite those who finance terrorism found within their territory.
  • Violation of Article 12 and 18: The failure to provide Ukraine great assistance in connection with criminal investigations of those who finance terrorism.
  • Violation of Article 18: Failure to take all practical measures to prevent and counter the financing of terrorism.

What alleged violations by Russia are Ukraine specifically pointing to?

  • The shoot down of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17.
  • The bombing of civilians in eastern Ukraine, including at Volnovakha, Mariupol, Kramatorsk and Kharkiv.

Ukraine wants Russia to comply with its obligations to the ICSFT including to:

  • Immediately cease to support (meaning funding, providing weapons and training) illegal armed groups that engage in acts of terrorism in Ukraine. This includes the Donetsk People's Republic (DPR), Luhansk People's Republic (LPR) and Kharkiv Partisans.
  • Immediately make efforts to withdraw all associated weaponry in Ukraine.
  • Immediately control its borders to prevent further acts of terrorism in Ukraine (including the financing and the supply of weapons).
  • Immediately stop the movement of money, weapons and assets from Russia to occupied Crimea and freeze associated bank accounts from illegal armed groups.
  • Immediately prevent all Russian officials from financing terrorism in Ukraine and prosecute those individuals who had done so.
  • Provide full co-operation and assistance with Ukraine on the financing of terrorism. 
  • Make full reparation for the shoot down of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17.
  • Make full reparation for the bombing of civilians in, inter alia: Volnovakha, Mariupol, Kramatorsk and Kharkiv.

Alleged violations of the CERD by Russia according to Ukraine:

  • Systematically discriminating against and mistreating the Crimean Tatar and ethnic Ukrainian communities in Crimea.
  • Holding an illegal referendum in an atmosphere of violence and intimidation against non-Russian ethnic groups.
  • Suppressing the political and cultural expression of the Crimean Tatar identity.
  • Preventing the Crimean Tatars and ethnic Ukrainians to celebrate cultural events.
  • Perpetrating a campaign of disappearance and murders of Crimean Tatars.
  • Harassing the Crimean Tatars in a regime of searching and detention.
  • Silencing the Crimean Tatar and ethnic Ukrainian media.
  • Suppressing the Crimean Tatar language education.

Ukraine wants Russia to comply with its obligations to the CERD including to:

  • Immediately cease from cultural erasure and guarantee equal protection of the law to ethnic Ukrainians and Crimean Tatars.
  • Restore the rights of the Mejlis (an elected representative body of the Crimean Tatar people) of the Crimean Tatar people and of Crimean Tatar leaders.
  • Immediately restore the rights of the Crimean Tatar and ethnic Ukrainian people to engage in cultural gatherings.
  • Immediately take measures to end the disappearance and murder of Crimean Tatars in Russian-occupied Crimea.
  • Immediately take measures to end the unjustified searches and detentions of Crimean Tatars in Russian-occupied Crimea.
  • Immediately allow the Crimean Tatar and ethnic Ukrainian media outlets to resume operations.
  • Immediately cease interference with Crimean Tatar and ethnic Ukrainian education and take measures to restore education in the Crimean Tatar and Ukrainian language in Russian-occupied Crimea.
  • Make full reparation for all the victims of the Russian Federation’s pattern of cultural erasure through discrimination.

What did the Court say?

  • The summary of the Court’s findings were published on 19th April 2017.
  • The Court recognised that it was called upon based on Ukraine’s claim of Russia’s alleged violations of existing treaties. The first, in fighting in eastern Ukraine and the destruction of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 under the ICSFT. The second, the events in Crimea under the CERD.

The Court on Russia’s alleged violations of the ICSFT:

  • The Court observes that acts Ukraine refers to did give rise to a large number of civilian deaths.
  • The Court found that Ukraine has insufficient evidence show to Russia, with intent, knowledge and purpose (Article 2 of the ICSFT), violated articles in the ICSFT.

The Court on Russia’s alleged violations of the CERD:

  • By 13 votes to 3, the Court concludes that Russia must refrain from maintaining or imposing limitations on the ability for the Crimean Tatar community to conserve its representative limitations, including the Mejlis (an elected representative body of the Crimean Tatar people).
  • The Court unanimously voted to ensure the availability of education in the Ukrainian language.
  • The Court unanimously voted for both parties to refrain from any action to aggravate or extend the dispute before the Court, or make it more difficult to resolve.