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Provisional measures in the Application of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide in the Gaza Strip (South Africa v. Israel)

  1. Introduction

While awaiting the International Court of Justice’s (ICJ or Court) order on provisional measures, which should come sometime next week, and in any event before 5 February 2024 latest (given the change in the current composition of the Court on 6 February 2024), this blogpost tries to summarize the arguments presented by South Africa and Israel before the ICJ respectively on 11 and 12 January (in a single round of oral pleadings), and reflect briefly on what to expect next. For the provisional measures procedure, besides there being a dispute between the parties, five legal aspects are important. First, there should be prima facie jurisdiction; second, there should be a link between the measures requested and the rights underlying the main claim; third, is the plausibility of the rights that are claimed; fourth, there must be a risk of irreparable prejudice capable of arising prior to the final determination of the dispute; and fifth, there must be urgency. All of these requirements seem to be sufficiently satisfied for this stage of the case.

  • South Africa’s submissions (almost) in a nutshell

South Africa pled its case on 11 January. Its submissions are here (verbatim record, not corrected, pages 17-85). After some preliminary matters and the introduction and installment of the judges ad hoc, Judge Moseneke for South Africa and Judge Barak for Israel, the President of the Court, Judge Donoghue (USA) gave the floor to the Agent of South Africa. Mr Vusimuzi Madonsela, Ambassador of South Africa to the Netherlands, who gave some brief opening remarks putting the case in the broader context (paras. 1-7). Mr Ronald Lamola, Minister of Justice and Correctional Services of the Republic of South Africa, expanded on those opening remarks (paras. 1-9), noting that Palestinians have experienced systematic oppression and violence for the last 76 years, on 6 October 2023 and every day since 7 October 2023 (para. 3) and that South Africa has unequivocally condemned the targeting of civilians by Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups and the taking of hostages on 7 October 2023, most recently in its Note Verbale to Israel on 21 December 2023 (para. 4).

Dr Adila Hassim, Senior Counsel, provided an overview of the risk of genocidal acts and the perpetual vulnerability to acts of genocide (paras. 1-40). She noted at the outset that Israel continues to exercise control over the airspace, territorial waters, land crossings, water, electricity, electromagnetic sphere and civilian infrastructure in Gaza, as well as over key governmental functions and that Gaza, which is one of the most densely populated places in the world is home to approximately 2.3 million Palestinians, almost half of them children (para. 3). Hassim emphasized that Palestinians in Gaza are being killed by Israeli weaponry and bombs from air, land and sea (para. 4) and that they are also at immediate risk of death by starvation, dehydration and disease as a result of the ongoing siege by Israel, the destruction of Palestinian towns, the insufficient aid being allowed through to the Palestinian population and the impossibility of distributing this limited aid while bombs fall (para. 4). She demonstrated how Israel’s conduct violates Articles II (a) killing Palestinians in Gaza (paras. 10-17), II (b) causing serious mental and bodily harm to Palestinians in Gaza (paras. 18-19), II (c) deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part (paras. 20-32) and II (d) reproductive violence of the Convention (paras. 30-35). Dr Hassim noted that this pattern of conduct by Israel indicated genocidal intent (para. 36), namely:

(1) specially targeting Palestinians living in Gaza;

(2) using weaponry that causes large-scale homicidal destruction, as well as targeted sniping of civilians;

(3) designating safe zones for Palestinians to seek refuge and then bombing these;

(4) depriving Palestinians in Gaza of basic needs — food, water, healthcare, fuel, sanitation and communications;

(5) destroying social infrastructure: homes, schools, mosques, churches, hospitals; and

(6) killing, seriously injuring and leaving large numbers of children orphaned.

Mr Tembeka Ngcukaitobi, Senior Counsel, examined Israel’s alleged genocidal intent (paras. 1-38), based on a pattern of conduct (paras. 4-8) and from genocidal speech by Israeli leaders and military officials (paras. 9-29). He noted that 1 per cent of the Palestinian population in Gaza has been systematically decimated, and 1 in 40 Gazans have been injured since 7 October 2023 (para. 6). He noted statements by the Israeli Prime Minister (para. 12), deputy speaker of Knesset (Israeli parliament, para. 13) Minister of Defence (para. 14), Israeli Army Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) (para. 15), other members of the Israeli cabinet (para. 16), and the Israeli President (para. 17). Ngcukaitobi also illustrated genocidal intent from speech by soldiers and army commanders (paras. 20-29) and more generally from unchecked public incitement of genocide by various public figures (paras. 30-32). Besides genocidal intent, Ngcukaitobi also addressed Israel’s knowledge of the scale of the destruction (paras. 33-35).

Professor John Dugard, Senior Counsel, focused on whether the Court had prima facie jurisdiction to indicate the requested provisional measures (paras. 1-18). He noted that South Africa had raised its concerns about the crime of genocide in Gaza at various fora and with Israel, and through its 17 November referral of Israel’s commission of the crime of genocide to the International Criminal Court. Dugard also drew attention to the special considerations that apply to the existence of a dispute under the Genocide Convention and its Article IX does not require negotiations as a precondition to seising the jurisdiction of the Court (paras. 13 and 18) and that the Court’s test for the existence of a dispute were fulfilled (para. 14).

Professor Max du Plessis, Senior Counsel, discussed the nature of the rights that South Africa sought to preserve, noting them as core rights (paras. 5-15) and as rights erga omnes (para. 16-21), and explaining the link between such rights and the measures requested (paras. 24-28). Among others, he noted that many United Nations bodies and experts, as well as various expert human rights organizations and institutions and States, as also set out in South Africa’s Application, confirm that acts committed by Israel can be considered genocidal, or at the very least, have warned that the Palestinian people are at risk of genocide (para. 11, with many references, including to a Twitter/X post by myself on p. 51), all underlining the plausibility of South Africa’s claim for provisional measures. In comparing this case with the Ukraine and Gambia cases (paras. 22-23), du Plessis contended that the rights of the Palestinians in Gaza are no less worthy of the Court’s considerable protective power under Article 41 to issue provisional measures (para. 23, and repeated in para. 28). He argued that the rights at stake in these proceedings are certainly “at least plausible”, “grounded in a possible interpretation” of the Genocide Convention, as it imposes on parties the obligation to prevent and punish genocide under Article I, and in doing so intends to protect groups and parts of groups from genocide (para. 26).

Ms Blinne Ní Ghrálaigh, King’s Counsel, presented the argument of urgency and potential irreparable harm (paras. 1-36). She started with an apology to the francophone members of the Court, given that South Africa’s pleadings had taken place in English (paras. 1-4), but provided most of her pleadings in English. She stressed the emergency of the situation and painted a realistic and powerful picture of the catastrophic humanitarian situation in Gaza (paras. 6-8). She developed the criteria of urgency (para. 10) and of irreparable prejudice, as serious risks to human life and other fundamental rights (paras. 11-16). Ní Ghrálaigh noted that the Court has found provisional measures to be justified in all three cases where they were previously sought in relation to violations of the Genocide Convention (paras. 17-18), namely Bosnia and Herzegovina, Gambia and Ukraine, emphasizing that this is occurring in Gaza on a much more intensive scale, to a besieged, trapped, terrified population that has nowhere safe to go (para. 18). She argued that the fact that the urgent risk of irreparable harm arises in a situation of armed conflict does not undermine much less preclude a request for provisional measures (paras. 19-22, at 19). In addressing the relationship of provisional measures and the mitigation of risk (paras. 23-26), Ní Ghrálaigh noted that any scaling up by Israel of access of humanitarian relief to Gaza in response to these proceedings or otherwise would be no answer to South Africa’s request for provisional measures (para. 23). Highlighting the fact that an unprecedented 148 United Nations staff have been killed to date, she emphasized that without a halt to Israel’s military activity in Gaza, there will be no end to the extreme situation facing Palestinian civilians (para. 26). In developing the concept of elementary principles of morality (paras. 29-31), Ní Ghrálaigh warned that the international community is failing again by ignoring the early warnings of the “grave risk of genocide to the Palestinian people” sounded by international experts since 19 October 2024 (para. 30), despite the overt dehumanizing genocidal rhetoric by Israeli governmental and military officials, matched by the Israeli army’s actions on the ground; despite the horror of the genocide against the Palestinian people being livestreamed from Gaza to our mobile phones, computers and television screens — the first genocide in history where its victims are broadcasting their own destruction in real time in the desperate — so far vain — hope that the world might do something (para. 31).

Professor Vaughan Lowe, King’s Counsel, spoke on provisional measures (paras. 1-40). After a brief introduction (paras. 1-3), he summarized the five requirements necessary for the indication of provisional measures (paras. 4-9), namely first that there needs to be prima facie jurisdiction (para. 5); second, the existence of the link between the measures requested and the rights underlying the main claim (para. 6); third, the plausibility of the rights that are claimed (para. 7), four, the requirement of irreparable prejudice (para. 8); and fifth, the requirement of urgency (para. 8), that had been already been addressed by the previous speakers. Lowe developed on the Court’s approach to provisional measures, including the protection of individuals (para. 10), protecting the integrity of the Court’s procedures (para. 11), and the limited scope of the South Africa’s request for provisional measures (paras. 12-15). He explained in detail the reasoning behind the specific seven provisional measures requested by South Africa (paras. 16-27). Just before concluding, Lowe addressed why the exercise of the right of self-defence cannot justify or be a defence to genocide (paras. 28-35) and why unilateral undertakings by Israel are not enough (paras. 36-40).

The Agent of South Africa, Ambassador Vusimuzi Madonsela, made some concluding remarks and read out the request for provisional measures (paras. 1-5). The Court rose at 1.20 p.m.

  • Israel’s submissions (almost) in a nutshell

Israel pled its case on 12 January. Its submissions are here (verbatim record, not corrected, pages 12-75). After calling the Court to order, President Donoghue, called on the Agent of Israel, Tal Becker, Legal Adviser at Ministry of Foreign Affairs, for his opening statement (paras. 1-55). Becker started by invoking the close connection of Israel with the Genocide Convention, and of Raphael Lemkin, a Polish Jew, credited with coining the term genocide (paras. 1-3). He then proceeded to noting that the Applicant had presented to the Court a profoundly distorted factual and legal picture (para. 8). According to him, the entirety of its case hinges on a deliberately curated, decontextualized and manipulative description of the reality of current hostilities (para. 8). Among others, he accused South Africa of delegitimizing Israel’s 75-year existence (para. 9), of attempting to weaponize the term genocide against Israel (para. 11), of ignoring the crimes of Hamas in its submissions (para. 14), of having a close connection to Hamas (para. 31), and of a libelous claim against Israel (para. 55). Becker addressed in some detail the horrible attacks of Hamas of 7 October 2023 (paras. 12-13 and 17-20). Most likely, Israel submitted the documentary about the sexual crimes committed by Hamas on 7 October for separate screening by the court (in camera perhaps, para. 16). Becker accused Hamas of genocidal acts and genocidal intent (paras. 22-24). He stated that to indicate provisional measures would amount to denying Israel the right to defend itself (paras. 25-29). Becker then turned to addressing the situation in Gaza and (paras. 33-38), noting among others that when Israel left Gaza in 2005, the territory had the potential to become a political and economic success story (para. 34) and that if Hamas abandoned its strategy, released the hostages and lied down its arms, the hostilities and suffering would end (para. 38). As expected, he laid the whole blame for the mass killing, mass material destruction, and humanitarian situation on Hamas (paras. 39-43), also posing doubts on the number of Palestinians killed. Becker referred to a recent Twitter/X post by Netanyahu, where the Israeli Prime Minister made a distinction between Hamas and the civilian population (para. 49), conveniently posted on 10 January in the evening, just a day before Israel’s pleadings. Importantly, he claimed that as the Prime Minister has reaffirmed, Israel seeks neither to permanently occupy Gaza, or to displace its civilian population (para. 50).

Professor Malcolm Shaw addressed the Court on the issues falling within the general categories of prima facie jurisdiction and the preservation of alleged rights sought to be protected (paras. 1-73). He started with some introductory remarks aimed at painting a broad picture of the case (paras. 2-9). In chiding South Africa for its limited context, he asked why stop at 75 years, and not refer to 1922 and the approval by the Council of the League of Nations of the British Mandate, or 1917, the proclamation of the Balfour Declaration, or the entry into the land of Israel of the Israelite tribes some 3,500 years ago (para. 2)? Instead of dwelling on the numerous historical injustices to the Palestinian people, he immediately brought the context back to the 7 October horrible acts that according to him may be seen as the real genocide in this situation (para. 3). In tackling the issue of prima facie jurisdiction (paras. 11-52), Shaw addressed (i) the existence of a dispute (paras. 11-27) concluding that South Africa decided unilaterally that a dispute existed, irrespective of Israel’s conciliatory and friendly response (para. 25); (ii) a prima facie case (paras. 28-29), noting that provisional measures are intended to constitute a shield and not a sword (para. 29); (iii) on intent (paras. 30-52) he pointed out that one element of Article IX, that of the need to demonstrate the existence of a dispute was lacking (para. 30). The second element concerns the question as to whether the acts complained of by the applicant can be seen as falling within the provisions of the Convention (para. 30). Shaw argued that there was no genocidal intent, taking up various statements by the President, the Prime Minister, the Minister of Defence, the IDF spokesperson and others (para. 46). Unwittingly perhaps, he seemed to throw Netanyahu under the International Criminal Court (ICC) proverbial (slow) bus by stating that, “The Prime Minister stands at the head of these organs, decides on the agenda of their meetings, steers their activity and summarizes the meetings and the instructions issued therein. (para. 39)” Turning to rights being sought protected (paras. 53-60), he addressed the issue of plausibility, then turning to making three simple and brief points about South Africa (paras. 62-65). First, he claimed that South Africa had presented a confusing and a partial recital of the facts (para. 62). Secondly, that the appropriate legal framework for this tragic situation is that of international humanitarian law (para. 62). Thirdly, that Israel’s efforts both to mitigate harm when conducting operations as well as its efforts to alleviate suffering through humanitarian activities at the very least mitigate against any allegation of genocidal intent (para. 62). In a rather absurd argument, Shaw accused South Africa of being complicit in genocide and failing to prevent genocide, by giving succor to Hamas (para. 64), despite South Africa’s clear and repeated condemnations, including in the legal proceedings before the Court. He addressed also the actions of the Respondent (66-70), emphasizing the right of self-defence. In summary (paras. 71-74), Shaw concluded that there is no genocide or genocidal intent, nor a dispute between the parties.

Ms Galit Raguan, Director of the International Justice Division (Deputy Attorney General for International Law, Ministry of Justice), addressed three aspects of reality on the ground concerning the humanitarian situation in Gaza (para. 1-77). First, Hamas’ military tactics and strategy. Second, Israel’s efforts to mitigate civilian harm during operational activity. And third, Israel’s efforts to address humanitarian hardship in Gaza, despite Hamas’ attempts at obstruction (para. 5). She argued that Hamas’ military tactics and strategy have caused the death and destruction in Gaza (paras. 6-36). Moving to Israel’s efforts to mitigate civilian harm (paras. 37-47), Raguan listed a number of steps taken by the IDF including the IDF Civilian Harm Mitigation Unit map divided into evacuation areas (paras. 41-42). She objected to South Africa’s claim that the IDF gave 24 hours’ notice to civilians in northern Gaza to evacuate, claiming that the IDF urged civilians to evacuate to southern Gaza for over three weeks before it started its ground operation (para. 44). Understandably, she did not address where more than one million Palestinian people from Northern Gaza could go, or the fact that they had to evacuate multiple times.  Raguan mentioned that the IDF has dropped millions of leaflets over areas of expected attacks with instructions to evacuate and how to do so, broadcast countless messages over radio and through social media warning civilians to distance themselves from Hamas operations, and made over 70,000 individual phone calls (para. 45) and pointed to the IDF’s Arabic Twitter account (para. 46). On her third topic, with respect to the humanitarian situation (paras. 48-), Raguan first noted that a dedicated military unit, called COGAT, is responsible for routine co-ordination with international organizations in Gaza with respect to various humanitarian aspects (para. 51) and then outlined COGAT’s tasks (paras. 55-59). She argued that Hamas commandeered consignments into Gaza and controlled their distribution (paras. 61-65). Raguan gave a few examples of facilitation of humanitarian aid by COGAT (paras. 67-71, no concrete numbers). She concluded that Israel’s efforts to mitigate the ravages of this war on civilians are the very opposite of intent to destroy them, and under these circumstances, far from being the only inference that could reasonably be drawn from Israel’s pattern of conduct, intent to commit genocide is not even a plausible inference (para. 77).

Mr Omri Sender, Attorney at Law, addressed the issues of lack of risk of irreparable prejudice and urgency (paras. 1-22). From the wording, it did not seem he was too happy about this division of labor (“It falls to me to address”, para. 2). He started by acknowledging that the humanitarian situation is grave (para. 4). Then following an interesting litigation strategy went on to complain that South Africa did not plead Israel’s case by pointing out the extraordinary efforts undertaken by Israel to improve the humanitarian situation (para. 5). At least, COGAT had given Mr Sender specific information about food trucks allowed in Gaza, as he pointed out that the accurate average number for trucks specifically carrying food was 70 trucks a day before the war and 109 trucks a day over the last two weeks (para. 9). What he failed to clarify is that it is nearly impossible to bring the humanitarian assistance, food and medicines to those who need it, at scale, while Israeli bombs (generously provided by the US and other Western countries) keep falling on Palestinian heads all over Gaza. With skillful equivocation, he pointed out that there is no restriction on the amount of water that may enter Gaza (para. 10). The point, of course, is how much water do Palestinians in Gaza have access to quench their thirst. The answer is little, we know. Sender pointed out that access to medical supplies and services is also growing (para. 11). This statement is made against a background where all brave local and international medical professionals, MSF, WHO and others note the collapse of medical services in Gaza and hospitals burned and turned to rubble. Parallel universes do exist. Probably all of us should be marshalled into Sender’s (or maybe not). He made another two points about the lack of urgency for the indication of provisional measures, first related to the decrease in the intensity of hostilities (paras. 17-18), and second the start of the implementation of the UNSC Resolution 2720 of 22 December 2023 (para. 19). Finally, Sender argued that the lack of urgency within the meaning of the Court’s case law is further demonstrated by assurances provided by Israel’s Co-Agents (para. 21). A day after (Saturday, 13 January), during a press conference the Israeli Prime Minister said, “Nobody will stop us — not The Hague, not the [Iranian-led] axis of evil and not anybody else.” So much for the assurances given by the Israeli Agents, and note the listing by Netanyahu of the Court in the same sentence with the axis of evil. Returning to Sender’s pleadings, he concluded that the condition of irreparable prejudice and urgency cannot be met (para. 22).

Mr Christopher Staker, 39 Essex Chambers, argued as to why there was no need to examine the nine particular measures that South Africa requests (paras. 1-92). On the first and second requested measures (paras. 4-38), concerning the stopping of hostilities, he argued that provisional measures should protect the interests of either parties and gave a (extremely far-fetched?) hypothetical case as if a neutral State had brought a case against the Allied Powers, requesting for a cessation of hostilities. According to Staker, this would have caused the Allied Powers losing against the Axis Powers (paras. 23-24). Staker gave 10 reasons why the Court should not indicate provisional measures, most of them related to Hamas (paras. 27-35) and Israel’s right to defend against Hamas’s actions. His main claim was that instead of being a temporary shield, provisional measures were being used as a sword, to give an advantage to one party in a conflict over another (para. 37). On the third requested provisional measure, which would require Israel to take all reasonable measures to prevent genocide (paras. 39-48), he argued among others that the wording is not confined to the current military operations in Gaza (para. 42). On the fourth requested provisional measure, which would require Israel to “desist” from committing acts within the scope of Article II of the Convention (paras. 49-5), Staker focused on the word “desist”, arguing that the effect would be to shut down Israel’s military operation (para. 55). On the fifth requested provisional measure, which would require desisting from deliberately inflicting conditions of life calculated to bring about the physical destruction of the group (paras. 56-65), among others he noted that the conflict and the humanitarian situation cannot be resolved overnight. Since the provisional measure seemed designed to ensure that Israel would be in breach of it as soon as it were made and its sole purpose being to prejudice the merits, not to preserve rights on an interim basis, it should also not be granted (para. 64). On the sixth requested provisional measure, which would require Israel to ensure that its military, irregular armed units, organizations or persons subject to its control, direction or influence, do not commit acts falling within Articles II or III of the Convention (paras. 66-71), Staker objected to the reference to “any irregular armed units or individuals” since only the IDF was involved in the hostilities (paras. 68-69). On the seventh requested provisional measure on the preservation of evidence (paras. 72-81), Staker made the argument that this could be taken as effectively requesting a suspension of military activities (para. 75) and amount to an unprincipled and unnecessary tarnishing of reputation (para. 76). On the second part of this measure, requesting Israel not to impede access to Gaza by fact-finding missions, international mandates and other bodies (para. 77), he noted first, that access to Gaza from Egypt is under the control of Egypt (para. 78) and secondly, Israel has no obligation under international law to allow access from its territory into Gaza (para. 79). On the eighth requested provisional measure, on sending reports to the Court (paras. 82-85), Staker argued that there is no shortage of publicly available Israeli material and reports about the present situation in Gaza (para. 85). On the ninth requested provisional measure, on non-aggravation (paras. 86-91), Staker argued that an obligation of non-aggravation cannot fairly be imposed on only one party to a case, or only one party to a conflict, as that would prevent Israel from responding to any escalations by Hamas (para. 90).

Mr Gilad Noam, Co-Agent of Israel and Deputy Attorney General for International Law, concluded the arguments (paras. 1-26) by noting among others that Israel is committed to international law (para. 7), that the Israeli legal system ensures accountability (paras. 11-14). Noam also warned the Court that South Africa’s request would weaken the commitment to prevent and punish genocide, and turn it into a weapon in the hands of terrorist groups who have no regard for humanity or for the law (para. 19). He asked the Court to reject the request for provisional measures and to remove the case from the General List (para. 25). The Court rose at 1.10 p.m.

A quick comparison and what is next?

On a general comparison of the pleadings, South Africa supported its arguments with a lot of numbers and concrete facts and references to the work of the UN and other agencies and actors, operating in Gaza. In contrast, Israel’s submissions remained quite vague and often with references to case law by the Court quite far removed from the Genocide Convention. Their main arguments were that South Africa’s submissions were one-sided and painted a distorted picture; going as far as portraying South Africa as a helper of Hamas; and placed the blame for the disastrous humanitarian situation in Gaza entirely on Hamas. As expected, Israel remained silent on the equivalent of two atomic bombs dropped on Gaza by Israel over the last 100 days – amounting to over 25,000 tons of explosives. After promising before the Court on 12 January 2024 the facilitation of humanitarian assistance and asking the Court to trust the assurances by the Israeli Co-Agents, Israel imposed instead a week of communication blackout, where humanitarian assistance organizations like the Norwegian Refugee Council could not get in contact with their employees. What was striking overall reading the pleadings, was that Israel provided no numbers when it comes to humanitarian aid given by Israel as an Occupying Power to the population of Gaza, or concretely fulfilling its IHL/PIL obligation to facilitate the humanitarian aid reaching the deliberately starved Palestinians in Gaza. How many trucks? Sufficient for the needs of how many people? Is it reaching those in need?

The Court has rendered provisional measures in three other cases brought under the Genocide Convention. In the case brought by Gambia (2019), 74 calendar days were needed from the filing of the complaint to the Court’s order. In the case brought by Ukraine (2022), that period was 19 days. Same time was used for the case brought by Bosnia and Herzegovina against Serbia and Montenegro (1993). The ICJ should not drag its heels and should indicate provisional measures as requested by South Africa, especially those concerning a suspension of hostilities (humanitarian ceasefire) to save the 2,3 million Palestinians of Gaza from killing, injuries, famine and diseases. The impact of the Israeli military operations on Gaza in day 103 of the escalation of the conflict (OCHA, oPt as of 18 January 2024) is inhumane and genocidal. This order should be issued before the end of January 2024 latest, and preferably by early next week (in any event, before the current composition of the Court changes on 6 February). With the UN Security Council deadlocked, but the overwhelming majority of the world through the UN General Assembly (153 UN member States out of 193) demanding a humanitarian ceasefire, the Court should feel comfortable to add its powerful voice to those working towards bringing an end to this madness – the decimation of the Palestinian people in front of the world with complete disregard for international law or elementary considerations of humanity!

Few States have used sparingly (four times) the compromissory clauses contained in human rights treaties, namely the Genocide Convention (Gambia and South Africa) and the Convention against Torture (Belgium, and Canada and the Netherlands), to bring cases of general or community interest before the Court and to influence the course of the events. Seizing the Court based on these compromissory clauses is not a monopoly of Western States or of developing States, albeit some States will have more capacity than others to bring such cases or to engage in advisory proceedings. When it comes to the dire situation in Palestine, caused by the 56-year occupation by Israel and the denial of self-determination for the Palestinian people for more than 75 years, the interventions and submissions by a majority of Western States in the two advisory opinions brought before the Court concerning the situation in Palestine and the recent case brought by South Africa, and their actions and omissions over decades, speak volumes about their double-standards. The four cases concerning Palestine at the World Court (two advisory opinions and two contentious cases) are very important, because they lay open for the world to see who is consistently hypocritical about the rights of the Palestinian people. Arguably, some self-professed “champions” of human rights come out looking pretty bad, including the few usual suspects that have criticized South Africa for bringing the case.

I applaud South Africa and its legal team for taking the case to the Court and for their excellent Application and pleadings! Gotta give it to those pesky South Africans pursuing community interests like the prevention and punishment of genocide.

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