Statement of Ms. Oksana Zolotaryova, Director General for International Law, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, at the UN GA plenary meeting on the Report of the International Court of Justice

Statement of Ms. Oksana Zolotaryova, Director General for International Law, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, at the UN GA plenary meeting on the Report of the International Court of Justice

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Mr. President,

Ukraine welcomes the 2020-2021 Report of the International Court of Justice. The principal judicial body of the United Nations, the ICJ for 75 years already remains an authoritative forum for the peaceful settlement of disputes.

Over these years the World Court considered more than a hundred interstate disputes and received over 25 requests for advisory opinions proving that there is no alternative to the peaceful settlement of disputes.

Not only the variety and number of cases under consideration of the Court demonstrate that the Court keeps pace with the time, but also the efforts undertaken by the Court to address current challenges.

This year’s Report confirms that over last two decades the workload of the ICJ continues to grow. The geographical spread and variety of subject-matters of cases are also very illustrative. This is a clear sign of the importance and universality of this judicial authority and the general character of its jurisdiction.

In times of the pandemic, the Court remained fully accessible and operating. Of course, some of the proceedings including written submissions might have been affected by certain postponement. We welcome the adaption by the Court its working methods that enabled its effectiveness in such difficult times.

Mr. President,

The decisions of the Court are of paramount significance for promoting and establishing the rule of law, further they become sources of international law to which both states and international organizations rely to manage day-to-day behaviour.

Other adaptation of the procedures and working methods, such as adoption of new article 11 of the Resolution concerning the Internal Judicial Practice of the Court, also reflects the Court’s effort to take into account the trends it encounters in its work. Thus, the introduction of a new method of internal judicial control over the implementation of provisional measures under mentioned Article 11, is another confirmation of the serious and binding nature of the provisional measures ordered by the Court. As such, the efforts of the Court to strengthen their implementation can only be commended.

We praise the Court activities to ensure that its decisions are well understood and publicized world widely. It is particularly important to convey the ICJ communications to the attention to the Security Council, directly entitled by the UN Charter to secure compliance with the ICJ decisions. This requirement is clearly defined by provisions of the UN Charter and the ICJ Statute, the Rules of Court and the UNSC Provisional Rules of Procedure.

Ukraine strongly believes in international law. It is therefore our pleasure to note that the trust fund established for the Judicial Fellowship Program has had a successful launch. We hope that it will help to even further enhance and strengthen the Court’s capacity.

Mr. President, There is no any room for doubt that provisional measures, which are ordered by the Court as a matter of urgency and for the purpose of safeguarding the rights of the parties, are binding. The practice of the ICJ is to reaffirm and emphasize in its orders on provisional measures, by reference to Article 41 of the Statute, 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 those orders in good faith.

Following its occupation of Crimea, Russia launched a wide-ranging campaign of cultural erasure directed against the Crimean Tatar and Ukrainian communities. It has engaged in the collective punishment of whole ethnic groups in Crimea.

People in Crimea continue to be unlawfully detained and disappear, culturally important gatherings are suppressed, education in the Crimean Tatar and Ukrainian languages is restricted, and media from these disfavored communities are intimidated. These constitutes a massive violation of the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination.

I would like to recall the ICJ Order on provisional measures of 19 April 2017 in the case instituted by Ukraine against the Russian Federation on the interpretation and 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”. More than four years have passed and it has become apparent that Russia does not consider that it must suspend its discriminatory ban on the Mejlis under the language of the ICJ’s Order.

Moreover, on 1 June 2021 the so-called The Supreme Court of Crimea controlled by Moscow sentenced in absentia to six years in prison the chairman of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people Refat Chubarov in the case of the so-called "mass riots" in 2014. And the editor-in-chief of the Qırım newspaper, Bekir Mamutov was fined by Russian occupation authorities for publishing the UN Secretary-General report, in which the Mejlis was mentioned.

In the other part of the Order, ICJ ordered to “ensure the availability of education in the Ukrainian language” and we ascertain – it has also not been implemented.

This Order continues to be ignored despite its binding nature. The failure of the Russian Federation to comply with the Order is reflected in the General Assembly resolutions. Moreover, the General Assembly strongly condemned the continuing and total disregard by the Russian Federation for its obligations under the Charter of the United Nations and international law regarding its legal responsibility for the occupied Ukrainian territory.

By ignoring the Order of the ICJ Russia continues violating a binding decision, revealing an unfortunate attitude to the Court, to the UN Charter and to international law.

The UN Secretary-General in the recent report “Situation of human rights in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, Ukraine”, which was submitted pursuant to the UN General Assembly Resolution 75/192 under the same title, called upon the Russian Federation to uphold its obligations in Crimea under international human rights law and international humanitarian law.

In the Joint Declaration of the International Crimea Platform held in Kyiv on 23 August 2021, participants also urged the Russian Federation to bring an immediate end to all violations and abuses of human rights of residents of Crimea and to provide full and unimpeded access to Crimea for established regional and international monitoring mechanisms, in particular the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine and the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine, as provided for in their existing mandates, which cover the entire territory of Ukraine, including Crimea.

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.

Mr. President,

Ukraine will not change its firm commitment to the rule of law and peaceful settlement of disputes and will not turn from the path of using all available legal means to bring those states who violate it to responsibility. Taking into consideration an ongoing deterioration of human rights in Crimea, Ukraine on this session is planning to submit for the consideration of the Third Committee and the General Assembly a revised draft resolution “Situation of human rights in the temporarily occupied Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, Ukraine”, based on the last year’s resolution and the recommendations of the Secretary-General and OHCHR.

Ukraine will highly appreciate your valuable support and co-sponsorship of the updated document. Thank you.