The third-party intervention in the case pending before the ECHR entitled “Ukraine and the Netherlands v. Russia”

The third-party intervention in the case pending before the ECHR entitled “Ukraine and the Netherlands v. Russia”

Date: 23/03/2023

Anouk Pinaud 

International Justice and Human Rights Researcher 

Global Human Rights Defence 

Related to this article (21/03/2023) :

Third-party intervention is an essential principle that allows the European Court of Human Rights to make decisions in the most objective way. In addition, it allows for the involvement of civil society or other states where the case has cross-border implications.

If the President of the Court deems it necessary, he may grant permission for any Contracting Party who is not a party to the proceeding to intervene, as well as any concerned individual who is not the applicant. This is called “third-party intervention” and this possibility is governed by Article 36§2 of the European Convention on Human Rights and Rule 44 of the Rules of Court. 

The current conflict Russia-Ukraine is a conflict that involves all the interests of the international community. In fact, Agnès Callamard, International Secretary of Amnesty International France states “Russia is clearly violating its international obligations”. Thus, there is an essential link between the third-party intervention and the current conflict between these countries. 

There are several cases pending before the Court concerning this conflict and earlier acts. We are particularly interested in the Inter-State case of Ukraine and the Netherlands v. Russia. As part of this case, complaints were filed against the Russian military operations in Ukraine since 24 February 2022 and the conflict in eastern Ukraine involving pro-Russian separatists which began in 2014, including the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.  In this case, with an international dimension, the European Court of Human Rights officially announced that there are 31 third-party interveners. 

As a reminder, third-party intervention can be carried out by different entities: a State, an NGO, etc… The global importance of this conflict can be seen in the fact that of the 31 third-party interveners, 26 are Member States.  

Moreover, due to the exceptional characteristics of the situation, the Court accepted Bulgaria's application for intervention by derogating from the conditions laid down in Article 44 §3 b) of the Rules of the Court. As far as possible, these 26 Member States will have to work together and submit joint writer submissions. Third-party interveners requested to submit their submissions to the Court By 28 April 2023. 

This international mobilisation is indicative of the importance of this conflict and the importance of ensuring international justice.

Sources and further readings: 

Press Release issued by the Registrar of the Court (17/03/2023), The third-party intervention requests garanted in Inter-State case Ukraine and the Netherlands v. Russia : 

Press Release issued bu the Registrar of the Court (20/02/2023), European Court joins inter-State case concerning Russian military operations in Ukraine to inter-State case concerning eastern Ukraine and downing of flight MH17 : 

Amnesty International France, Russie/Ukraine. L’invasion de l’Ukraine est un acte d’agression et une catastrophe pour les droits humains, 21/03/2022 :,amen%C3%A9es%20%C3%A0%20rendre%20des%20comptes%20pour%20ces%20violations