Bulgaria joins Ukraine v Russia case in International Court of Justice

Bulgaria has lodged a declaration of intervention in the Ukraine versus Russia case in the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the ICJ said in a statement.

The declaration of intervention, filed on November 18, was lodged under Article 63 of the Statute of the Court, which enables states to intervene in proceedings if the outcome will bind them.

This does not mean that Bulgaria becomes a party to the proceedings, but has a say on how the convention being cited in the case should be interpreted.

Ukraine, citing the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, lodged the case against Russia on February 26 2022, two days after Russia’s current invasion of Ukraine began.

Under Vladimir Putin, Russia had sought to “justify” its invasion of Ukraine by advancing unsubstantiated allegations that Ukraine was engaged in acts of genocide within the Luhansk and Donetsk regions.

Ukraine’s application sought to “establish that Russia has no lawful basis to take action in and against Ukraine for the purpose of preventing and punishing any purported genocide”.

Its main contention was 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”.

Ukraine sought to establish that these acts by Russia had no basis in the Genocide Convention, and sought full reparation for these wrongful acts.

Ukraine accused Russia of planning acts of genocide in Ukraine and asserted that Russian armed forces were “intentionally killing and inflicting serious injury on members of the Ukrainian nationality”.

Russia, which has refused to participate in the ICJ case, was ordered by the court on March 16 to immediately suspend military operations in Ukraine pending the outcome of the case.

Russia has ignored this order, as it ignored a March 1 statement from the European Court of Human Rights, where it is also being sued by Ukraine, calling on Russia to “refrain from military attacks against civilians and civilian objects, including residential premises, emergency vehicles and other specially protected civilian objects such as schools and hospitals, and to ensure immediately the safety of the medical establishments, personnel and emergency vehicles within the territory under attack or siege by Russian troops”.

Bulgaria is the latest of a succession of countries to file declarations of intervention in the ICJ case.

The others that have done so are the Czech Republic, Croatia, Greece, Luxembourg, Austria, Portugal, Australia, Spain, Estonia, Finland, Ireland, Denmark, Italy, Poland, France, Romania, Sweden, the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Lithuania and Latvia.

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