[JURIST] The Russian Foreign Ministry [official website, in Russian] has released a statement [text, in Russian] downplaying the recent order of provisional measures [JURIST report] against both Russia and Georgia by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) [official website] in respect of the breakaway Georgian regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia [JURIST news archive] and challenging the court's jurisdiction to proceed to the merits of the case. The ICJ issued the provisional measures last Wednesday, rejecting [decision text, PDF] an emergency request by the Georgian Republic to order an outright halt to the alleged killing and mass displacement of citizens in the conflict region, and instead calling on both Georgia and Russia to meet their obligations under the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD) [text]. The Russian statement emphasized the provisional nature of the ICJ order, and the close vote taken to approve the action:
...The court addressed measures to both sides. They are general in nature and pointed to the need for the parties to comply with the obligations under the [CERD]. However, even such a decision was taken by only one vote. 7 out of 15 [sic] judges agreed with the Russian position on the apparent lack of jurisdiction of the [ICJ] in this case. ...Interfax has more.
Given that the [ICJ's] decision on jurisdiction in the context of interim measures is preliminary in nature, we intend to continue to prove that the [ICJ] has no jurisdiction in this case, at the next stage of the proceedings.
Georgia brought the case [JURIST report] in August after Russia sent its military into Georgia in response to a Georgian bid to strike the breakaway South Ossetia region, heavily populated with Russians. Last month Georgia sought [ICJ press release, PDF; JURIST report] emergency orders from the ICJ, arguing that Russia is engaged in ethnic cleansing and has violated the CERD by removing ethnic Georgians from the territories. Russia countered that its military actions have saved lives, and that the ICJ lacked jurisdiction over the case. In August, Russia instituted its own action [JURIST report] against Georgia in the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website], alleging that Georgia committed war crimes against ethnic Russians in South Ossetia. Tensions remain high following Russia's signing of military defense agreements [JURIST report] with South Ossetia and Abkhazia last month. The latest attempt at peace talks between Georgia and Russia broke down [AFP report] Wednesday.