ICJ indicates provisional measures in the Georgia v. Russia case 15 Oct 2008
The ICJ has indicated provisional measures in the case between Georgia and Russia in relation to alleged Russian interventions in South Ossetia and Abkhazia.


The Peace Palace in The Hague, seat of the ICJOn 15 October 2008, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) issued its order on the request for the indication of provisional measures submitted by Georgia in the case concerning alleged Russian interventions in South-Ossetia and Abkhazia. The decision to issue the order was made by a majority of eight judges, with seven judges appending a joint dissenting opinion. 

 

The Court first established that, prima facie, it has jurisdiction under the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD) referred to by Georgia to deal with the case and address the request for the indication of provisional measures. To issue provisional measures, the Court does not need to determine whether it has jurisdiction on the merits of the case, assuring prima facie jurisdiction suffices.

 

The ICJ recalled the “complex situation on the ground in South Ossetia, Abkhazia and adjacent areas and [took] note of the continuing uncertainties as to where [the] lines of authority lie.” The Court also highlighted the ongoing conflict in the region and the remaining instability of the area to underline that the ethnic Georgian population as well as the ethnic Ossetian and Abkhazian populations remain vulnerable. “With regard to these […] ethnic groups of population, there exists an imminent risk that the rights at issue … may suffer irreparable prejudice.”

 

Georgian TankIn view of the urgency of the situation the Court decided to order both Parties to refrain from any act of racial discrimination and to ensure the protection of the property of displaced persons and of refugees. The Court also ordered both Parties to “do all in their power to ensure that public authorities […] under their control or influence do not engage in acts of racial discrimination.”


Admissibility of the Request still pending

On 12 August 2008, Georgia filed an Application instituting proceedings against the Russian Federation for violation of the CERD during interventions in South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Two days later, Georgia submitted a Request for the indication of provisional measures in order to “protect its citizens against violent discriminatory acts by Russian armed forces, acting in concert with separatist militia and foreign mercenaries.”

 

The Court recalled that the power to indicate provisional measures “has as its object the preservation of the respective rights of the Parties pending the decision of the Court, in order to ensure that irreparable prejudice shall not be caused to rights which are the subject of dispute.” However, provisional measures in no way prejudge the question of jurisdiction or any questions relating to the merits themselves.

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