A report published by more than 30 internationally recognized academics and experts says that Russia is guilty of inciting genocide and having the intent to commit genocide in Ukraine, and that other countries are legally obliged to stop it.
Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy has decried the Russian attack on his nation as an attempted genocide, a position backed by US president Joe Biden and some other western leaders.
The report, commissioned by the New Lines Institute in Washington and the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights in Montreal, found that there were “reasonable grounds to conclude” that Russia has already breached two articles of the 1948 Genocide Convention, by publicly inciting genocide, and by the forcible transfer of Ukrainian children to Russian territory.
The report highlights the obligation on the international community to respond to the breaches. There is “a serious risk of genocide in Ukraine, triggering the legal obligation of all states to prevent genocide” it said. The Genocide Convention states that foreign governments must take action to prevent genocide, but offers no solid outline of what form that action should take.
Whilst western governments have been quick to offer financial aid and military equipment, they are reluctant to risk direct conflict with Russia by directly intervening in the conflict. The report acknowledged that nations may have no legal obligation to offer stronger support but suggested there was at least a moral argument for doing so.
Russia is currently under investigation for potential war crimes in Ukraine by the international criminal court, with charges of genocide one of the avenues open to chief prosecutor Karim Khan should he feel sufficient evidence exists.