The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is set to rule Wednesday on emergency measures sought by Ukraine in a case against Russia, including an order for Moscow to stop its military campaign.
The decision by the top United Nations court, also known as the “World Court”, will be read out in The Hague’s Peace Palace at 4 p.m. local time (1500 GMT).
Although the court’s rulings are binding, it has no direct means of enforcing them and in rare cases, countries have ignored them, in the past.
Ukraine filed its case shortly after Russia’s invasion began on Feb. 24, saying that Russia’s apparent justification, that it was acting to prevent a genocide in Eastern Ukraine, is unfounded.
At the hearings, Ukraine said there is no threat of genocide in Eastern Ukraine, and the U.N.’s 1948 Genocide Convention, which both countries have signed, does not allow an invasion to prevent one.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has described the invasion as a “special military action” needed “to protect people who have been subjected to bullying and genocide” – meaning those whose first or only language is Russian – in eastern Ukraine.
Russia said it skipped World Court hearings on March 7 “in light of the apparent absurdity of the lawsuit”.
However, Moscow did file a written document with the court saying the ICJ should not impose any measures.
Russia argued that Putin’s use of the word “genocide” does not automatically imply that it is basing its actions on the Genocide Convention. Without a dispute over the interpretation of the treaty, the court has no jurisdiction, Russia argued.
In an urgent situation the court can order emergency measures in a matter of days, even before it decides on whether it has jurisdiction in a case. That usually takes many months, while decisions on the actual merits of a case takes years.