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Australia to Provide Legal Support to Ukraine in UN Court Battle

Representatives from 32 nations, including Australia, are expected to deliver statements of support for Ukraine at The Hague.

Australian authorities will demonstrate their solidarity with Ukraine at the UN’s highest court, the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

The move comes in support of Ukraine’s legal challenge against the Russian invasion of the country, which began Feb. 2022.

Ukrainian authorities initiated proceedings at the ICJ, contending that Russian leadership had violated international law, in particular the Genocide Convention by using fabricated claims of genocide in eastern Ukraine as a pretext for the invasion.

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On Sept. 18, Russia formally urged the ICJ to reject Ukraine’s allegations.

Representatives from 32 nations, including Australia, are expected to deliver statements of support for Ukraine at The Hague’s Peace Palace during the proceedings.

While the case is currently heard, the ICJ is a slow-moving process and it could take years before a decision is reached.

Australia’s Arguments

Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus asserts that baseless accusations of genocide have a detrimental impact on the established international order.

“Australia stands unequivocally with Ukraine in its fight to hold Russia accountable for the despicable allegations used as the pretext for its illegal and immoral invasion,” he said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Solicitor-General Stephen Donaghue is scheduled to present Australia’s arguments on Sept. 20 night (AEST), during which he will make a case in support of Ukraine.

Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong said the submission was just one part of Australia’s multifaceted approach to holding Russia accountable.

“We stand with the people of Ukraine and the 31 other countries who are supporting Ukraine in this case – we are stronger when we work together to address shared challenges,” she said.

Ukraine Argues Russia is Abusing International Law

Ukraine has stated that there was no imminent threat of genocide in eastern Ukraine, where it had been engaged in conflicts with Russian-backed forces since 2014.

Furthermore, Ukraine argues that the provisions of the genocide treaty do not permit an invasion to halt an alleged genocide.

Ukraine further charges Russia with “planning acts of genocide in Ukraine” and of “intentionally killing and inflicting serious injury on members of the Ukrainian nationality” thereby alleging Russia’s own involvement in the genocide.

Despite this claim, Russian authorities continue to accuse Ukraine of genocide without substantiating these claims with evidence. Russia contends that Ukraine is utilising the UN’s court as an indirect method to secure a judgment on the overall legality of Russia’s military actions.

The International Court of Justice, headquartered in The Hague, was established in the aftermath of World War II.

Its primary purpose is to settle legal disputes brought forth by nations concerning alleged violations of international law, as well as to give advisory opinions on legal questions referred to it by authorised UN organs and specialised agencies.

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