The International Court of Justice (ICJ), UN’s top court, on Wednesday ordered Russia to suspend its invasion of Ukraine in a 13-2 decision, saying it was “profoundly concerned” by Moscow’s use of force. Among the 13 voters in favour of the direction to Russia was Indian judge Justice Dalveer Bhandari, who voted against Russian aggression.
“The Russian Federation shall immediately suspend military operations that it commenced on 24 February on the territory of Ukraine,” pending the final decision in the case, presiding judge Joan Donoghue told the International Court of Justice, or ICJ.
The International Court of Justice judgement comes as Moscow’s forces remained in place around major cities including the Ukrainian capital and the UN said more than three million people have fled the fighting.
Kyiv dragged Moscow before the Hague-based ICJ days after Russia’s invasion on February 24. It asked the legal body to intervene, saying Moscow was falsely alleging genocide in Ukraine’s Donetsk and Lugansk regions to justify its attack.
The rulings of the International Court of Justice are binding but there have been cases where countries have ignored them, as ICJ has no direct means of enforcing its orders.
The UN court comprises 15 judges. President of the ICJ Judge Joan E Donoghue (USA), Judge Peter Tomka (Slovakia), Judge Ronny Abraham (France), Judge Mohamed Bennouna (Morocco), Judge Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf (Somalia), Judge Julia Sebutinde (Uganda), Judge Dalveer Bhandari (India), Judge Patrick Lipton Robinson (Jamaica), Judge Nawaf Salam (Lebanon), Judge Iwasawa Yuji (Japan), Judge Georg Nolte (Germany), Judge Hilary Charlesworth (Australia), Judge ad hoc Daudet voted in favour of the direction.
Two judges who were against the direction were Vice-President Kirill Gevorgian (Russia) and Judge Sue Hanqin (China).
“The Russian Federation shall immediately suspend military operations that it commenced on 24 February on the territory of Ukraine,” pending the final decision in the case, presiding judge Joan Donoghue said at the hearing, held at the court’s headquarters at the Peace Palace building.
“The court is profoundly concerned about the use of force by the Russian Federation which raises very serious issues in international law,” Donoghue said.
Afterwards Ukraine’s representatives hailed the decision. “This is a complete victory of justice and a complete victory for Ukraine,” Anton Korynevych told journalists.
Who is Justice Dalveer Bhandari?
Serving his second term at the World Court, Bhandari was re-nominated by India and beat UK’s nominee Justice Greenwood to win another term at the ICJ.
However, Justice Bhandari’s vote against Russia is different from what India’s official position has been in different international fora. India has abstained from voting on the Ukraine-Russia issue in the UN and instead called on both sides to focus on negotiations and end hostilities.