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Europe

Georgia, Russia Take Conflict to Highest UN Court

Russia and Georgia are to put their differences over Georgia's breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia before the International Court of Justice in an emergency three-day hearing.

The International Court of Justice in The Hague

The International Court of Justice is the UN's highest court

The Hague-based ICJ, the highest UN court, seeks to resolve matters of international law disputed by state governments. From Monday, Sept. 8, until Wednesday it will hold a public hearing on proceedings instituted by Georgia against Russia.

Tbilisi has accused Russian forces of driving ethnic Georgians out of the two regions in a form of ethnic cleansing. Moscow has denied the allegations.

Georgia is also expected to request that Russia ensure the safe return home of displaced Georgian refugees.

A suit was filed last month, with Tbilisi demanding that Russia withdraw all of its troops and pay damages for three military interventions in the region between 1990 and August 2008.

Awaiting judgement

A judgement from the ICJ is not expected for several weeks. All decisions of the Court in cases between states are binding as stipulated in article 94 of the UN Charter. However, the parties involved have the responsibility to implement the decision.

"I believe the court will not take as long to act as in other cases because the situation on the ground is really very difficult now and we need a decision very soon because the population is suffering," Georgia's Ambassador to the Netherlands Maia Panjikidze told Reuters news agency.

A Georgian woman waits at the Russian embassy

Russia stopped issuing visas to Georgian citizens after Georgia severed diplomatic ties

Analysts have predicted that Russia, in its defense, will question the jurisdiction of the ICJ and dispute Georgia's claim of ethnic discrimination.

EU to send observer mission

Last month Georgia and Russia fought a five-day war over the rebel provinces of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, which Moscow subsequently recognized as independent.

The European Union and the United States have maintained their support for Georgia's territorial integrity and have not recognized the two territories.

On Saturday, European Union foreign ministers agreed to send an observer mission to Georgia to monitor Russian troops' withdrawal from the occupied territory.

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