August 14, 2008

Georgia: Proceedings Against Russia Before ICJ

Sample ImageGeorgia has submitted an application against Russia at the International Court of Justice concerning South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

 

Below is an article published by the Hague Justice Portal:

Georgia has submitted an application against Russia at the International Court of Justice concerning Russia's interventions in South Ossetia and Abkhazia since 1990.

On Tuesday evening, 12 August 2008, the Republic of Georgia submitted an application before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) instituting proceedings against the Russian Federation.

The proceedings concern the Russian Federation’s international responsibility for “actions on and around the territory of Georgia” in the period from 1990 to August 2008, which Georgia submits were in breach of the 1965 International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD).

The CERD—which came into force on 4 January 1969—was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in resolution 2106 and has been ratified by both Russia and Georgia. Article 22 of the Convention stipulates that unresolved disputes between Parties will be referred to the International Court of Justice. Georgia also invokes Art. IX of the Genocide Convention as an additional basis of jurisdiction.

‘Three phases of intervention’

In its Application, Georgia submits that Russia’s recent intervention in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, which began on 8 August 2008, is the third phase of intervention in violation of Russia’s obligations under the CERD. Georgia submits that the first phase took place between 1991 and 1994, when the Russian Federation “provided essential support to South Ossetian and Abkhaz separatists in their attacks against…virtually the entire ethnic Georgian population of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.”

In a second phase, Georgia claims that the signing of the “Sochi Agreement” on 24 June 1992 marked the beginning of a fresh round of Russian intervention. The Agreement was signed by Georgia, the South Ossetian separatist forces and the Russian Federation. In Abkhazia, a similarly de facto autonomous region in the west of Georgia, a second phase of Russian intervention allegedly began following the signing of the 14 May 1994 “Moscow Agreement”. Under these two agreements, a joint peacekeeping force was created to monitor the ceasefires.

“By implementing racially discriminatory policies in South Ossetia and Abkhazia”, Georgia submits, “under the cover of its peacekeeping mandate the Russian Federation has sought to consolidate the forced displacement of the ethnic Georgian and other populations that resulted from “ethnic cleansing” from 1991-1994.”

Georgia requests the ICJ to order “the Russian Federation to take all steps necessary to comply with its obligations under [the] CERD”, including articles 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6.

Possible investigations by ICC

The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Luis Moreno-Ocampo, also confirmed on Tuesday [12 August 2008] that his office had received “communications” on the situation between Georgia and Russia.

Unlike the ICJ—the principal judicial organ of the United Nations—which hears cases brought by individual States, the ICC tries individuals charged with grave crimes under the Rome Statute, including genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

Asked whether the Office of Prosecutor would be launching a preliminary investigation into the situation, Moreno-Ocampo said: “It is a possibility.”

Click here to view the presentation of the case.