Professor Koh Argues on Behalf of Ukraine at World Court

A team of lawyers which include Sterling Professor of Intercontinental Law Harold Hongju Koh argued on behalf of Ukraine on March 7 in a go well with filed in opposition to Russia at the Worldwide Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Hague.

On Feb. 26, Ukraine asked for an urgent choice purchasing Russia to halt all army action soon after its invasion last 7 days. The request argued that Russia had created a judicial dispute about the application and interpretation of the 1948 Conference on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (“Genocide Convention”), which equally Russia and Ukraine have ratified.

The ICJ is the United Nations’ court for resolving disputes amongst nations, established in June 1945 by the Charter of the United Nations and seated at the Peace Palace in The Hague (Netherlands).

Koh is the Sterling Professor of Global Regulation at Yale Legislation Faculty, the place he has taught considering the fact that 1985, and served as Dean from 2004­–09. He is a single of the nation’s top specialists in community and non-public intercontinental regulation, countrywide security law, and human rights. From 2009–13, he served as the 22nd Authorized Adviser of the U.S. Division of State in the Obama Administration, and in 2021, he returned to the Place of work of the Authorized Adviser at the commence of the Biden Administration as Senior Adviser, the senior political appointee in that workplace.

Koh was beforehand included in a Ukrainian scenario versus Russia at the ICJ in 2017, just after the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, when the Ministry of International Affairs arrived at out for authorized information. That earlier romance led to Koh’s involvement in the present circumstance.

Observe THE HEARING in Ukraine v. Russian Federation [Professor Harold Koh begins at 2:40:08]

Russia has claimed “that functions of genocide have transpired in the Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts of Ukraine” as a foundation for launching what it phone calls a “special army operation” versus many Ukrainian metropolitan areas.

Professor Koh Argues on Behalf of Ukraine at World Court
Professor Harold Hongju Koh sent the closing argument for Ukraine at the International Courtroom of Justice.

Ukraine’s application argues that “[t]he parties…have a factual dispute as to irrespective of whether genocide, which is outlined by Short article II of the Genocide Convention, has happened or is developing in the Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts of Ukraine.” And that “the get-togethers also have a lawful dispute as to irrespective of whether, as a consequence of Russia’s unilateral assertion that genocide is developing, Russia has any lawful foundation to take armed forces motion in and against Ukraine to reduce and punish genocide pursuant to Write-up I of the Genocide Conference.”

At the hearing, Ukraine sought to “establish that Russia has no lawful basis to just take motion in and versus Ukraine for the purpose of preventing and punishing any purported genocide.” It questioned the courtroom to rule on both of those the factual disagreement and Russia’s declare to legal authority to just take armed forces motion in and towards Ukraine.

At the hearing on March 7, Koh introduced Ukraine’s closing argument in favor of suitable provisional steps and requested for a prompt ruling.

Russia despatched the court docket a letter saying that Russia “had made a decision not to take part in the oral proceedings.” However, a court ruling is anticipated within months.

“The tragedy we are all observing in the streets of Kyiv, Kharkiv, Mariupol, Kherson, Volnovakha, and so many other Ukrainian cities is specifically what our modern worldwide lawful system was built to protect against.”
—Professor Harold Hongju Koh

Koh known as this a “singular scenario that right up until now, most have contemplated only in the hypothetical: a Long-lasting Member of the United Nations Security Council decides, with planned premeditation, to dedicate naked aggression and war crimes by launching a wide and brutal army marketing campaign in opposition to an harmless neighbor and its civilian population, based on the bogus pretext that the goal state is committing genocide. When confronted by such open up illegality, is this Courtroom totally powerless to cease it?”

Koh went on to deal with the value of the ICJ’s position in the postwar global lawful buy.

“The tragedy we are all viewing in the streets of Kyiv, Kharkiv, Mariupol, Kherson, Volnovakha, and so a lot of other Ukrainian metropolitan areas is precisely what our modern worldwide authorized method was intended to avoid,” Koh argued. “If this Courtroom does not act decisively towards this degree of aggression and atrocity, based on outrageous abuse of just one of the world’s most crucial human rights treaties…why need to any Long lasting-5 U.N. Member see worldwide legislation as a significant impediment to what it may well perceive as ‘necessary armed forces action’? Then why wouldn’t we be forced to concede that the postwar global lawful task has failed?”

Professor Koh at the World Court
Professor Koh (left) at the Worldwide Court of Justice on March 7.

Koh concluded by underscoring the ICJ’s position in the worldwide community. “The provisional measures Ukraine requests are fair and achievable. You have undeniable lawful authority to act. Something fewer would fall short to vindicate the rule of worldwide law less than these most dire of circumstances…[T]he entire world awaits your actions.”

In addition to Koh, Ukraine is represented before the ICJ by a team of litigators from Covington & Burling LLP, alongside with Professor Jean-Marc Thouvenin of Paris-Nanterre University. Ukraine’s Brokers before the Court docket are Anton Korynevych, the Lasting Consultant of the President of Ukraine in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, and Oksana Zolotaryova, Director of the International Regulation Office in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine.