Thursday, August 5, 2010

ICJ Announces Hearings in Georgia-Russia Dispute

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has scheduled public hearings regarding the Application of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (Georgia v. Russian Federation) for Monday Sept. 13 to Friday Sept. 17, 2010.  This case was filed by Georgia in 2008 in the wake of violent conflict with Russia that August.  Georgia alleged that Russia had engaged in widespread and systematic discrimination against ethnic Georgians both before and during the conflict in violation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD), to which both States belong.  The September 2010 hearing will concern only Russia's preliminary objections to jurisdiction.  Russia claims that the matter does not involve racial discrimination, but instead the case is about the use of force, humanitarian law and territorial integrity.  Thus, according to Russia, jurisdiction is not properly founded on the CERD and there is no other basis upon which the ICJ may rest jurisdiction.


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The ICJ has already determined that violations have occurred of the CERD by the actions of both the Abkhazian irregular forces, as well as the Ossetian forces which the ICJ found were directly attributable to the regular forces of the Russian Federation.

The Russian Federation can make any allegation or ill-gotten attempt in formulating an alternative basis hypothetical or otherwise in in attempting to define the nature of the dispute in attempting to eviscerate ICJ jurisdiction. However, the fatal flaw in the Federation's position is that the violation of the CERD and its jurisdictional basis for the present dispute is not mutually exclusive of any other characterization.

The CERD and its violations stand independently as a jurisdictional basis, irrespective of any alternative attempts at characterizing the conflict.

Posted by: Jonathan M Meyer | Aug 6, 2010 12:24:38 PM

Actually, I believe that the ICJ has made a preliminary ruling to that effect, but there has been no ruling on the merits because that will have to come after the hearings.

And while you are correct that the CERD may independently provide jurisdiction, the ICJ has never had a case where jurisdiction is founded solely on CERD, so it will be a ruling of first impression. The question is whether the scope of CERD is sufficiently broad to cover this particular factual circumstance.

Posted by: Cindy G Buys | Aug 10, 2010 8:39:00 AM

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