The European Court of Human Rights and the Armed Conflict between Russia and Ukraine

von Kanstantsin Dzehtsiarou

On 26 November 2014, the European Court of Human Rights (‘ECtHR’ or ‘the Court’) published a press release announcing that it has communicated to the government of Russia two inter-state complaints that the Ukraine has brought against it concerning the events that took place in the Crimea and the Eastern regions of Ukraine (‘the Donbas’) in the spring and summer of 2014. These cases arise from Russia’s annexation of the Crimea and military support allegedly provided to separatists in the Donbas. Communication is the first procedural step in the adjudication of these complaints. It does not mean that they are admissible or that a violation of the Convention has been found. Russia is merely requested to comment on a set of questions which may shed light on whether the Russian Federation has jurisdiction over some areas of Ukraine where the alleged violations are said to have taken place and to provide information regarding the substance of the alleged violations.

Ukraine v. Russia (I) concerns alleged violations of the European Convention on Human Rights in connection with the annexation of the Crimea by Russia. In this application, the Ukrainian government asserts that Russia is responsible for multiple breaches of the Convention, including the right to life and the prohibition of torture. Ukraine also complains that Russia has violated the Convention by supporting military units of separatists that are still fighting in the Donbas.

The Court earlier adopted interim measures under Rule 39 in this case instructing both parties not to put the Convention rights of civilian population at risk. These measures are still in force. I have argued elsewhere that the Court does not have means to ensure compliance with such interim measures and it puts its reputation at risk by engaging in such ‘activist’ decision-making.

Ukraine v ...

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