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Georgia Requests Provisional Measures from the ICJ

Yesterday, on 14 August, Georgia filed with the Court a 10 page request for the indication of provisional measures. Georgia claimed that “Despite the withdrawal of Georgian armed forces and the unilateral declaration of a ceasefire, Russian military operations continued beyond South Ossetia into territories under Georgian government control”. It seems that the continued military operations by Russian troops in Georgian territory and the ongoing threat they pose to Georgian sovereignty and to the safety and life of its citizens were the reason for the filing of this request. To put it in Georgia’s words: ‘Contrary to Russia’s declaration of a ceasefire, the ongoing elimination of the remaining Georgian civilians and villages demonstrates an attempt to expand the boundary of territories under the control of separatist authorities by changing the ethnic demography in a pattern resembling the conflicts of the 1990s.’ It is not entirely clear though whether the separate filing of the case and the request for provisional measures had more to do with Georgia’s hope that the ceasefire would mean an end to Russia’s military operations on Georgian soil, was part of Georgia’s litigation strategy, or was simply a matter of time needed for the preparation of the request.

Georgia further claimed that “the continuation of these violent discriminatory acts constitutes an extremely urgent threat of irreparable harm to Georgia’s rights under [the] CERD in dispute in this case”. Georgia requested the Court “as a matter of utmost urgency to order the following measures to protect its rights pending the determination of [the] case on the merits:

(a) the Russian Federation shall give full effect to its obligations under [the] CERD;

(b) the Russian Federation shall immediately cease and desist from any and all conduct that could result, directly or indirectly, in any form of ethnic discrimination by its armed forces, or other organs, agents, and persons and entities exercising elements of governmental authority, or through separatist forces in South Ossetia and Abkhazia under its direction and control, or in territories under the occupation or effective control of Russian forces;

(c) the Russian Federation shall in particular immediately cease and desist from discriminatory violations of the human rights of ethnic Georgians, including attacks against civilians and civilian objects, murder, forced displacement, denial of humanitarian assistance, extensive pillage and destruction of towns and villages, and any measures that would render permanent the denial of the rights to return of IDPs, in South Ossetia and adjoining regions of Georgia, and in Abkhazia and adjoining regions of Georgia, and any other territories under Russian occupation or effective control”.

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