ICJ orders Russia to stop Ukrainian invasion 'immediately'

Friday, March 18, 2022

The Peace Palace in The Hague, the Netherlands, the seat of the ICJ.
Image: Ben Bender.

On Wednesday, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) directed Russia to "immediately suspend the military operations" in Ukraine in a 13–2 vote of representatives. The ruling against the Russian invasion of Ukraine was opposed by Russia and China.

Ukraine filed the case on February 26, two days after the Russian invasion began. Russia justified the incursion as a special military operation to protect Russian groups in Eastern Ukraine from genocide, which Ukraine says is unfounded. During the hearing, Russia insisted "it was acting in self-defense".

Ukrainian representative to the ICJ Anton Korynevych demanded "Russia must be stopped". Ukraine said the United Nations Genocide Convention doesn't permit invasion as defense against genocide, and denied committing or planning any such acts.

The court ruled in Ukraine's favor. It reasoned, "the civilian population affected by the present conflict is extremely vulnerable. The 'special military operation' being conducted by the Russian Federation has resulted in numerous civilian deaths and injuries."

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky hailed the victory on Twitter: "Ukraine gained a complete victory in its case". He also wrote: "Ignoring the order will isolate Russia even further."

Russia had earlier boycotted the ICJ hearing with a March 7 filing saying the court lacks jurisdiction on the matter. Even though the ICJ ruled in favor of Ukraine, it has no executive right to enforce the verdict.

Russia's military continues to strike Ukrainian cities and destroy civilian structures. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees reported that about 3 million Ukrainians had taken refuge in nearby countries since the invasion.