Statement by Ms. Oksana Zolotarova, Acting Director-General of the Directorate General for International Law, MFA of Ukraine, on the Report of the International Court of Justice

Statement by Ms. Oksana Zolotarova, Acting Director-General of the Directorate General for International Law, MFA of Ukraine, on the Report of the International Court of Justice

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Madame President,

We welcome the President of the International Court of Justice to the General Assembly and thank him for his comprehensive presentation of the Report.

The debate we have today is another confirmation of effectiveness of pacific settlement of international disputes and a fact that it has no alternative.

What we all observe and what is confirmed by the Report — more and more states turn to the Court to seek protection of their rights and rights of their people. This confirms the trust of states in the ability of the Court and its members to administrate justice.

Questions that are under the consideration of the Court now are vitally important not only to the Parties of disputes but to all international community as they will affect future application and interpretation of different spheres of international law, various bilateral and multilateral treaties.

The Court’s position will become a source of international law that will be quoted not only by scholars but also in decisions of various international judicial authorities, arbitral tribunals and even to WTO dispute settlement practice.

We would like also to note the recent practice of the ICJ to emphasize in its orders on provisional measures reference to Article 41 of the Statute reaffirming that its orders have binding effect and create international legal obligations for parties to whom the provisional measures are addressed.

Unfortunately, not all states respect the Court’s orders and take real measures to implement it in good faith.

Madame President,

I would like to remind you of the ICJ Order on provisional measures of 19 April 2017 in the case instituted by Ukraine against the Russian Federation on the 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.

In its decision, the Court required Russia, among other things, to “refrain from maintaining or imposing limitations on the ability of the Crimean Tatar community to preserve its representative institutions, including the Mejlis.”

A year passed and it became apparent that Russia does not consider that it must suspend its discriminatory ban on the Mejlis under the language of the ICJ’s Order.

Therefore, on 19 April 2018 Ukraine asked the ICJ to provide definitive interpretation of its order — the language of the Order is clear and requires the ban to be lifted immediately.

We appreciate all the efforts from the ICJ in ascertaining views of Ukraine and Russian Federation in this regard.

Ukraine welcomes that the Court reaffirmed the binding nature of its Order and directed Russia to report on concrete steps taken to implement it by 18 January 2019.

I would also like to use this opportunity and to remind about the other part of the Order, to “ensure the availability of education in the Ukrainian language” and we ascertain — it has also not been implemented.

By ignoring the Order of the ICJ Russia continues violating binding a decision clearly showing its attitude to the Court, to the UN Charter and to international law. In this regard, we call upon the international community to insist that Russia abide by international law, including the binding rulings of the International Court of Justice.

Madame President,

Using this opportunity, let me provide, in addition to the information from the Report of the Court, with an update regarding the case that Ukraine initiated against the Russian Federation in the ICJ in 2017.

On 12 June 2018, Ukraine submitted its Memorial to the International Court of Justice documenting serious violations of international law by the Russian Federation. The Memorial, accompanied by voluminous evidence, establishes that the Russian Federation has violated the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

The Memorial catalogs Russia’s brazen and comprehensive assault on human rights and international law in the territory of Ukraine, and the tremendous toll these acts have taken on the Ukrainian people and the whole world.

In joining the Terrorism Financing Convention, the Russian Federation pledged to suppress the financing of terrorism, but in Ukraine, it does the opposite. Illegal armed groups in Donbas have perpetrated horrific acts of terrorism against civilians using arms from the Russian Federation. And Russia has violated its international obligations by failing to prevent its officials and other of its nationals from providing these weapons to groups known to engage in terrorist acts.

With Russian support, these groups attacked MH17, taking nearly 300 innocent lives; unleashed deadly barrages of rocket fire on Ukrainian cities, including the assaults on a checkpoint near Volnovakha and residential neighborhoods in Kramatorsk, Mariupol, and Avdiivka; and planted bombs that have ripped through patriotic marches, popular nightclubs, and other peaceful locations.

The Russian Federation has likewise pledged to eradicate racial discrimination, but does the opposite in Ukraine. In Crimea, which Russia illegally occupies, Russia maintains a policy of racial discrimination and cultural erasure directed against those ethnic communities that dared to oppose its purported annexation. Russia has trampled the political, civil, and cultural rights of these communities, including through the ban on the Mejlis, the representative institution of the Crimean Tatar community; disappearing and murdering Crimean Tatar and Ukrainian activists; banning cultural gatherings and suppressing media outlets; and restricting opportunities for children to be educated in their native languages.

Rather than respond to the merits of Ukraine’s case, Russia seeks to avoid accountability for its unlawful actions and has filed Preliminary Objections, arguing that the Court lacks jurisdiction over the case.

Madame President,

Ukraine wants to reiterate its commitment to peaceful settlement of disputes. We value the impartial way and expeditious manner of the Court’s activities. We recognize a crucial role of the ICJ in maintaining and promoting the rule of law throughout the world, and especially in situations of conflict.

Thank you.