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International Court of Justice: Ruling on Georgia v. Russian Federation

(Oct. 20, 2008) On October 15, 2008, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) issued its ruling in Georgia v. Russian Federation, which was brought to the Court on August 12, 2008, following the Republic of Georgia's accusation that Russia breached the 1965 International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and conducted “violent discriminatory acts” through the use of its armed forces, in concert with separatist militia and foreign mercenaries. This is the first time that Russia or the former Soviet Union, a nation that ceased to exist in 1991 and to which Russia is a legal successor, has been called before the ICJ, the principal judicial body of the United Nations. The submission of the claim followed the August 8, 2008, invasion by Russian military forces of the sovereign territory of Georgia and the strengthening of the Russian military and political presence in the Georgian province of South Ossetia. Russia denied the existence of evidence attesting to the harm caused by its actions, and Russia's representative to the Court stated that the country does not exercise control over South Ossetia or other parts of Georgia and is not responsible for the activities of South Ossetian militias.

In its ruling, the ICJ reminded both parties of their obligations and ordered them to refrain from any discriminatory acts and do everything in their power to ensure the security of people and the protection of their rights and property. The ICJ refused to investigate war crimes, acts of genocide, or acts of discrimination. The Court did not determine whether Russia violated the 1965 Convention and indirectly recognized both parties as responsible for the escalation of the conflict. (Press Release No. 2008/35, International Court of Justice, Georgia v. Russian Federation (Oct. 15, 2008), available at  For more information on international law aspects of the Russo-Georgian war, see the Law Library of Congress report Russian Federation: Legal Aspect of War in Georgia (Sept. 2008), available at //