The Efficacy and Impact of Interim Measures: Ukraine's Inter-State Application against Russia

By Koch, Julia | Boston College International and Comparative Law Review, January 1, 2016 | Go to article overview

The Efficacy and Impact of Interim Measures: Ukraine's Inter-State Application against Russia


Koch, Julia, Boston College International and Comparative Law Review


INTRODUCTION

Violence erupted across the country after Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych abandoned a monumental economic and political association agreement with the European Union (EU) in November 2013.1 Ethnic and cultural divisions that had existed in Ukraine for centuries gave way to hostility as pro-Western protestors violently challenged Yanukovych's decision.2 Armed pro-Russian groups countered this movement and took over a collection of government buildings throughout eastern Ukraine.3 Since the beginning of the fighting, the civilian death toll and human rights abuses have risen consistently.4 The annexation of Crimea by Russia in early 2014 not only challenged the state sovereignty of Ukraine but also gave way to additional human rights violations in the region.5 In the face of continued violence and Russian influence, Ukraine filed an inter-state application against Russia seeking relief before the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) and alleging, among other things, the violation of Ukrainian nationals' right to life and right to freedom from torture or inhuman and degrading treatment.6 The court granted Ukraine's simul- taneous request for interim measures due to the dangerous and volatile situation in the region; however, the court has yet to make an admissibility determination or to rule on the merits.7 Nevertheless, Ukraine v Russia is unique because of the procedure surrounding inter-state applications, the nature of ECtHR interim measures, and the implications the case may have on global politics.8

Part I of this Note provides a background on Ukrainian history and details the recent conflict sparked by the failed EU agreement. It also describes the procedure and nature of Ukraine's inter-state application and the ECtHR's interim measures. Part II outlines the ECtHR's case law on inter-state applications, interim measures, and extraterritorial jurisdiction. Finally, Part III argues that the court's interim measures have not been effective, as both Ukraine and Russia have failed to comply with the court's order. That is not to say, however, that the interim measures are without value. Rather, the court's order can still contribute to the overall discourse and conflict resolution process in international law.

I. Background

A.Ukrainian History

1.From the Middle Ages to the Twentieth Century

Until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Ukraine was primarily controlled by outsiders, which contributed to the broad mix and variation in the Ukrainian culture that has developed over centuries.9 Beginning in the mid- fourteenth century and lasting for three hundred years, portions of Ukraine were ruled by the Tartar Golden Horde while others were concurrently ruled by the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and still others by the Kingdom of Poland.10 In the mid-seventeenth century, a large tract of Ukraine experienced selfgovernance and independence as the result of a Cossack revolt; it was shortlived, however, and portions of the territory were partitioned to other powerful states in the region.11 Following an additional sequence of annexations in the late-eighteenth century, much of present-day Ukraine came under the control of the Russian Empire while a fraction of its western land was partitioned by the Habsburg Empire.12 By the end of the First World War, Ukraine became a part of the Soviet Union, where it remained until 1991.13

Following World War II, Ukrainians experienced a purge of foreign and non-Soviet ideas under the tight and repressive control of Joseph Stalin.14 The repression of outside influence-for example, the prohibition of any publications in languages other than Russian-was known as Russification, and it was historically used to unify the various Russian territories.15 Throughout the next half-century, Ukrainians were subj ect to a constant ebb and flow of Russification as Ukrainian political or cultural leaders would gain power and influence under a particular regime, only to have the advances of Ukrainian national development squashed during the next era. …

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