NZ to join International Court of Justice case against Russia

Attorney-General Foreign Affairs

Aotearoa New Zealand will join Ukraine’s case against Russia at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), which challenges Russia’s spurious attempt to justify its invasion under international law.

Ukraine filed a case at the ICJ in February arguing Russia has falsely claimed genocide had occurred in Luhansk and Donetsk regions, as a prelude to its so-called ‘special military operation’. Ukraine emphatically denies a genocide has occurred.

 Attorney-General David Parker and Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta announced the government has agreed to formally intervene as a third party in the case at the ICJ, the United Nations principal judicial body based in The Hague.

“As a party to the Genocide Convention and a strong defender of the international rules-based system, New Zealand has a real interest in ensuring the Genocide Convention is properly interpreted and applied. Disputes between states should be resolved by peaceful means, including through the ICJ, and not by the illegal use of force,” David Parker said.

“Intervention enables a country that is not a party to the case to put its legal views before the court,” said Nanaia Mahuta.

“Aotearoa New Zealand has only taken such action at the ICJ once before, in Australia’s 2012 case against Japanese whaling in the Southern Ocean.

“Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine and disingenuous attempt to justify it under the Genocide Convention is a significant threat to basic principles of international law, the United Nations Charter and the rules-based international system on which New Zealand strongly relies. 

“We are profoundly concerned about the loss of life and human suffering in Ukraine as a result of Putin’s illegal invasion, and seek to emphasise that all countries must uphold the rules of international law and the purpose and principles of the United Nations Charter.

“Aotearoa New Zealand is prepared to play its part in assisting Ukraine and has already done so through a range of diplomatic, military and economic measures,” Nanaia Mahuta said.


An intervention would include making written and possibly oral submissions to ensure Aotearoa New Zealand’s views on the proper interpretation and use of the Genocide Convention are on the record.

Third Party Interventions will be filed after Ukraine files its substantive case, which is due by 23 September 2022. Ukraine’s case seeks to establish that no acts of genocide occurred in Luhansk and Donetsk and that Russia has no lawful basis to its invasion.

Aotearoa New Zealand recently joined a Canada-led statement along with more than 40 other countries which indicated those countries would all consider the possibility of making a third party intervention to support Ukraine.