Top UN court allows record 32 countries to intervene in Ukraine v Russia genocide case

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — The International Court of Justice has accepted requests from 32 countries to support Ukraine in a genocide case against Russia, the United Nations’ highest court announced Friday.

It is the largest number of countries to join another nation’s claim before the global tribunal based in The Hague, Netherlands.

Ukraine’s government filed the legally creative case days after Russia invaded its neighbor in February 2022. The Kremlin snubbed hearings held the following month as protesters waving Ukrainian flags chanted anti- war outside the gates of the courthouse.

Latvia was the first country to intervene in the complaint, which alleges that Russia violated the 1948 Genocide Convention by falsely accusing Ukraine of committing genocide in its eastern regions of Luhansk and Donetsk, and using that as a pretext for the invasion.

A record number of 33 countries, including the United States, Canada, Australia and all European Union member countries except Hungary, have applied to participate alongside Ukraine in the affair. However, the judges of the UN tribunal rejected the American request on a technical point.

“The tribunal finds that the statements of intervention filed in this case, with the exception of the statement submitted by the United States, are admissible,” they said.

Any country that has signed the post-World War II treaty criminalizing genocide is allowed to file a request to intervene in cases brought under the agreement. The United States did not agree to part of the Genocide Convention when it signed the treaty, so judges determined the country had no right to participate.

Countries and organizations that are not directly involved in legal proceedings often ask the courts if they can present arguments in a case, particularly if the outcome might affect them in some way.

Experts view the petitions in the current case as attempts to demonstrate support for Ukraine and condemn Russia’s war rather than countries seeking opportunities to defend particular positions or legal arguments.

“Countries are expressing their solidarity with Ukraine,” Ori Pomson, a Cambridge University lawyer whose research focuses on the International Court of Justice, told The Associated Press.

In March 2022, the court ordered Russia to halt hostilities in Ukraine, but Moscow did not comply.

The World Court is hearing a separate case earlier brought by Ukraine related to Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea and Russian funding of separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine.

A similar group of countries have also asked the European Court of Human Rights to intervene in a cluster of cases Ukraine has brought against Russia over the war. In March, the Strasbourg court granted 31 groups the right to support Ukraine in these proceedings.


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