RESPONSE TO MR. IVANOV’S INTERVIEW ON CNN OF AUGUST 11, 2008
Note: This paper represents a response to the interview of the Deputy Prime-Minister of the
On 11 August 2008, Deputy Prime-Minister of the
Mr. Ivanov, with a bright smile on his face, accused
In the morning of 8 August 2008, President Saakashvili called upon
III. Claim that
The accusation by Mr. Ivanov that Georgian forces committed genocide and ethnic cleansing is a total lie aimed at misleading the international community. It must be noted as a preliminary matter that it was the Georgian population that was subjected to ethnic cleansing in
It must be also mentioned that the actions of the Georgian government in South Ossetia were not motivated by special intention to “destroy in whole or in part” a specific ethnic group which is necessary to qualify an act of genocide, but rather the necessity to protect the Georgian population of the conflict zone from the attacks of the separatists. It can be confirmed by the efforts of the Georgian government to resolve the conflict with separatists by peaceful means during the recent period. Georgian forces launched the operation in the region only in response to the prior attacks by the separatists against Georgian villages within the conflict zone. The clearest indication of the preference of the Georgian government to solve the conflict through peaceful negotiations has been the statement of the President Saakashvili on 7 August 2008 before the above mentioned operation was launched, ordering Georgian forces to cease fire and urging separatists to engage in peace talks for the resolution of the conflict, promising amnesty for crimes possibly committed. On August 8, after launching the offensive,
It should be also mentioned that the complex actions taken by the Government of Georgia over the years in the conflict region is an apparent proof to the fact that
Thus the accusations of Mr. Ivanov is far from truth and is part of dirty propaganda to and used as a pretext to justify aggressive actions on the part of the Russian Federation.
As for today it the troops of the
IV. The Claims of the Russian Federation Carrying Out Peace-enforcement Operation and Protection of Citizens of the Russian Federation is without any Legal Grounds and Constitutes an Apparent Act of Aggression
According to Mr Ivanov, the aim of Russian forces is enforcement of peace and protection of the rights of Russian citizens and for this purpose they target only military objectives.
(i) Peace-enforcement: From the perspective of the legality of the use of force, it is necessary to underline the arguable validity of justification advanced by the
Further, it is to be underlined that Russian fighter jets have targeted not only military objectives but also civilian objects, in violation of one of the cardinal principles of the international humanitarian law, the principle of distinction, aimed at distinguishing between these two categories of objectives and protecting civilian population. Even if one accepts that the purpose of the Russian forces is to enforce peace, this goal can hardly be achieved by targeting civilian population.
Ivanov denied that Russian troops were going far beyond the conflict zones, noting that they did not cross the administrative border between South Ossetia and
As for the parallels to the NATO bombing of Belgrade, first of all, this case significantly differs from the situation in Georgia, by the actions of the respective central government and the breakaway region as well as the scale of the humanitarian catastrophe that served as a ground for intervention and the presence of the Security Council prior reactions to that situation, calling on Yugoslavia to stop its actions.
(ii) Protection of national abroad:
Moreover, international law does not recognize the legality of use of force for the protection of the “nationals abroad.” The ILC in its First Report on Diplomatic Protection of 2000, approved by the General Assembly by its resolution, emphasized that the state practice in combination with the prohibition of use of force under Article 2(4) of the UN Charter outlaws use of force under the pretexts of diplomatic protection. The only exception to this provision, permitting the unilateral use of force by States, is Article 51, which deals with the right of self-defense. The illegality of
Thus, any use of force by the Russian Federation against Georgia can only be categorized as an illegal armed reprisal, which is clearly prohibited under international law, inter alia, by the GA Resolution 2625 on Friendly Relations and Cooperation among Nations, by the ICJ in Nicaragua case in the Advisory Opinion on the Legality of Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons and Article 50(1)(a) of the ILC Articles of State Responsibility. Moreover, Russia’s actions goes beyond the illegal armed reprisal and meets the standards of the international wrongful act of aggression as understood under the international law. Therefore,