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On 26 February 2022, Ukraine launched a complaint against the Russian Federation before the International Court of Justice, which is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations. The case (Ukraine v. Russian Federation) concerns allegations of genocide under the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

In its application, Ukraine contends, inter alia, that “the Russian Federation has falsely claimed that acts of genocide have occurred in the Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts of Ukraine, and on that basis recognized the so-called ‘Donetsk People’s Republic’ and ‘Luhansk People’s Republic’, and then declared and implemented a ‘special military operation’ against Ukraine”.

On 1 March, the ICJ announced that public hearings would be held on 7-8 March and streamed online. The Russian Federation informed the Court that it “ha[d] decided not to participate in the oral proceedings due”, and submitted that the ICJ lacked competence in the case. Ukraine submitted that Russia should immediately suspend its military operations. 

In response to Ukraine’s request, the Court on 16 March delivered an Order indicating the following provisional measures:
1.    The Russian Federation shall immediately suspend the military operations that it commenced on 24 February 2022 in the territory of Ukraine;
2.    The Russian Federation shall ensure that any military or irregular armed units which may be directed or supported by it, as well as any organizations and persons which may be subject to its control or direction, take no steps in furtherance of these military operations;
3.    Both Parties shall refrain from any action which might aggravate or extend the dispute before the Court or make it more difficult to resolve.

The Order of the Court has binding effect, but whether in practice Russia will abide by it is in question.