10 July 2024

Giving Covenants Swords

The classical Hobbesian critique of international law famously asserts that “covenants, without the sword, are but words.” Accordingly, given Israel’s persistent non-compliance with the ICJ’s provisional measures in South Africa v. Israel, on 29 May 2024, South Africa requested “the Security Council to give effect to the Court’s judgments” under Article 41 of the ICJ Statute. This post shows why the discussions on whether the Council lacks the statutory authority to supervise and enforce the Court’s provisional measures under the ICJ Statute overlook the broader point. Namely, the Order on provisional measures is the perfect legal evidence for the Council to trigger its powers under Chapter VII and thus end the humanitarian calamity in Gaza.

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08 July 2024

Why the International Criminal Court’s Jurisdiction Doctrinally Attaches to Israeli and Russian Nationals

As the storm of ICC Chief Prosecutor Karim Khan’s request for arrest warrants loomed and landed on Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and his Defence Minister Yoav Gallant, ardent supporters of Israel within the U.S. and U.K. governments and beyond appear to have seized upon a jurisdictional objection. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is reported as saying that the “ICC has no jurisdiction over this matter.” The U.K. Foreign Secretary David Cameron is reported to have said the same thing. There is a basic flaw, though, in the treaty-based objection to the ICC jurisdiction as has been made. It ignores the nature of the mandate of international criminal tribunals as mechanisms for the effective preservation of the basic fabric of the international order.

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21 May 2024

Anträge mit Sprengkraft

Am 20.5.2024 hat der Chefankläger des Internationalen Strafgerichtshofs bekannt gegeben, dass er in der „Situation Palästina“ mehrere Haftbefehle gegen ranghohe politische und militärische Führungspersonen beantragt hat. Dass der Ankläger zeitgleich gegen Mitglieder der Hamas und der israelischen Regierung vorgeht, bedeutet nicht, dass er eine Terrorgruppe mit einer demokratisch legitimierten Regierung gleichsetzt. Er bringt vielmehr zum Ausdruck, dass das Völkerstrafrecht für alle Konfliktparteien gilt und bemüht sich um einen ausgewogenen und (soweit in diesem Konflikt überhaupt möglich) neutralen, zumindest entpolitisierten Ansatz. Damit wird der Grundstein für eine gleichmäßige Anwendung des Völkerstrafrechts gelegt.

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02 May 2024

Why the Provisional Measures Order in Nicaragua v. Germany severely limits Germany’s ability to transfer arms to Israel

In an application before the International Court of Justice brought by Nicaragua against Germany, Nicaragua requested that the ICJ indicate provisional measures as a matter of extreme urgency with respect to Germany’s ‘participation in the ongoing plausible genocide and serious breaches of international humanitarian law and other peremptory norms of general international law occurring in the Gaza Strip’. While Nicaragua did not get any of the provisional measures requested, the request for provisional measures may nevertheless have achieved its aim of preventing Germany from providing arms to Israel for use in the Gaza Strip.

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11 April 2024

Third Provisional Measures in South Africa v Israel

On March 28, 2024, the ICJ issued its third provisional measures order in South Africa v Israel. The Court ordered further, more pointed, measures towards Israel to ensure the provision of humanitarian aid throughout Gaza. In this blog post, I consider that the right to be heard in the course of this third order has not been fully guaranteed since the ICJ based its ruling on the international reports which were not provided, known, and considered by either of the parties. Moreover, I argue that the ICJ underscored its decision on humanitarian law rather than obligations to prevent genocide.

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03 April 2024

The Silent Victim of Israel’s War on Gaza

In March 2024, Forensic Architecture reported that more than 2,000 agricultural sites, including farms and greenhouses, have been destroyed in Gaza since October 2023. Almost six months into Israel’s war on Gaza, evidence indicates the devastating impacts of the war on the natural environment in Gaza. In particular, it has been reported that farms have been devastated, and nearly half of the trees in Gaza were razed. While this raises numerous issues, the question of whether Israel’s large-scale airstrikes on Gaza would make a substantial contribution to serious violations of international humanitarian law (IHL) protecting the natural environment during armed conflicts, deserves more thought than it gets.

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Apartheid in the Occupied Palestinian Territory?

The apartheid claim made against Israel because of its policy in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) – most recently in the ongoing advisory proceedings before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) – cannot be settled with the counter-claim of antisemitism, but calls for an objective, thorough and fact-based legal inquiry. Only such an approach with regard to this and other allegations against Israeli policy will strengthen Israel, understood as a liberal and democratic Rechtsstaat, which guarantees, in line with its 1948 Declaration of Independence, “complete equality” to “all its inhabitants”.

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27 March 2024

Beyond the Blocs

On Monday, 25 March, the UN Security Council adopted a resolution demanding a ceasefire in Gaza and the immediate release of hostages, as well as emphasizing the need to increase the provision and distribution of humanitarian aid. The Resolution was adopted 14-0, with the United States the only member to abstain. As the Security Council website announces, this Resolution ended a “months-long deadlock”. The recent Resolution is not perceived by Israeli actors as binding. And yet, I argue that the fact that the US and Russia are now essentially voting together on the need to end this war could lead to significant further ramifications that may shape the region and beyond.

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15 March 2024

Judging Nicaragua’s Public Interest Litigation in The Hague

The judicialisation of Israel’s war in Gaza has taken a significant turn, with Nicaragua boldly entering the scene and executing two distinct actions. This post contributes to understanding Nicaragua’s two moves before the ICJ by analysing three dimensions. First, the country’s rich relationship with the Court. Second, the prioritisation of political impact and visibility over adjudicative success. Finally, the normative assessments concerning Nicaragua’s moral standing and intentions.

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14 March 2024

Waffenlieferungen als Staatsräson?

Rüstungsexporte nach Israel dürfen nicht genehmigt werden. Das ist der Tenor eines Urteils des niederländischen Berufungsgerichts in Den Haag vom 12. Februar diesen Jahres, das der niederländischen Regierung aufträgt, den Export von Bauteilen für F-35 Kampfjets nach Israel zu untersagen. Auch deutsche Kriegswaffenexporte nach Israel verstoßen gegen völkervertragsrechtliche Normen. Sie sind außenpolitisch bedenklich und sollten im Einklang mit nationalem Außenwirtschaftsrecht nicht aufrechterhalten werden.

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13 March 2024
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Conspicuously Absent

Nicaragua alleges that Germany violates the Genocide Convention and international humanitarian law by assisting Israel and also by failing to prevent violations of these bodies of law. It requests the International Court of Justice to indicate provisional measures, which would oblige Germany inter alia to stop assisting Israel. While the Court may be barred from exercising its jurisdiction over Nicaragua’s claims relating to the Genocide Convention it may be able to hear the claims regarding Germany’s duties under IHL.

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23 February 2024

Taking War to Court

A surprise attack launched by Hamas on October 7 ignited yet another period of violence in Israel and Gaza. In response, Israel launched an unprecedented invasion of the Gaza Strip, which resulted in the deaths of over 25,000 Gazans, most of them civilians. While the war does not seem to come close to an end, Israel has meanwhile encountered a different kind of problem; following the October 7 attack, Israel captured hundreds of Hamas fighters. Immediately following the start of the war, voices in Israel urged the government to launch criminal prosecutions of these attackers, with some arguing that Israel should impose the death penalty on the perpetrators.

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21 February 2024

The Legal Limits of Supporting Israel

On January 26, 2024, the International Court of Justice (‘ICJ’ or ‘the Court’) issued its provisional measures order on the Application of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide in the Gaza Strip (South Africa v. Israel). This article provides an overview of the legal implications of the ICJ’s order for third-party states providing political, financial, or military support to Israel, including the US, Canada, the UK, Germany, and the Netherlands. I argue that the plausibility of genocide establishes the necessary evidentiary threshold to trigger state responsibility for third-party states on the international level as well as to initiate domestic legal proceedings.

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14 February 2024

Dutch Court Halts F-35 Aircraft Deliveries for Israel

In a landmark decision, the Hague Court of Appeal ordered the Dutch government on 12 February 2024 to stop supplying Israel with F-35 fighter jet parts because there was a “clear risk” that serious violations of international humanitarian law (IHL) would be committed with the aircraft in Gaza. In their unanimous decision, the three judges relied on the European Union (EU) Common Position on Arms Exports and the Arms Trade Treaty as they apply to Dutch law, which outline criteria against which military exports must be assessed to determine the risk of abuse. The judgment made important findings on the nature of these risk assessments, which may have significant implications in future litigation.

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11 February 2024

Why Nicaragua’s Article 62 Intervention in South Africa v. Israel is Potentially Unhelpful

On 23 January 2024, Nicaragua applied for permission to intervene in the case concerning Application of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide in the Gaza Strip (South Africa v. Israel). Nicaragua's application will drag proceedings out one way or another. Potentially it means the Court must hear and decide upon a third version of events, clouding South Africa’s original case. If this case is really about addressing what the Court described as a ‘human tragedy’ in Gaza and not just about political point-scoring, Nicaragua, by trying to help, may just have made things worse.

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09 February 2024

UNRWA as Sui Generis

Since UNRWA preemptively disclosed Israel’s claim to have evidence that 12 UNRWA employees participated in the 7 October 2023 attacks, at least 16 donor states and the European Union, which collectively supply the vast majority of the Agency’s budget, have suspended their contributions. This poses an existential threat to UNRWA, the largest provider of humanitarian assistance in Gaza. This post explains how the current episode displays the unsatisfactory sui generis status of UNRWA’s Palestinian staff, and forms part of an ongoing and largely successful attempt to position UNRWA as a compromised, sui generis UN organisation which constitutes an outlier in the law and practice of the United Nations.

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31 January 2024

South Africa v Israel: A Solomonic Decision as “Constructive Ambiguity”

In its wise Order of 26 January 2024, the ICJ managed to make a virtue out of a necessity: Israel was not prohibited from continuing its combat operations but was reminded of its strict compliance with international humanitarian law and its obligation to avoid genocide. At the same time, the ICJ reiterated the requirement to respect the most fundamental rights and the core of humanitarian law to all warring factions. Despite still essentially being a court for inter-state disputes – it put the individual, the human being, at the centre. Henceforth, the ICJ’s order of provisional measures is a Solomonic decision at its best and a further step towards the “humanization of international law”.

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30 January 2024
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Intervention auf Irrwegen

Am 29.12.2023 reichte Südafrika Klage vor dem Internationalen Gerichtshof (IGH) gegen Israel wegen Verstößen gegen die Völkermordkonvention im Gazastreifen ein. Zusätzlich zum Hauptsacheantrag begehrte Südafrika im einstweiligen Rechtsschutz den Erlass von vorsorglichen Maßnahmen („Provisional Measures“), auf die sich auch die zweitägige Anhörung der Parteien bezog. Am zweiten Tag der Anhörungen verkündete Deutschland, zugunsten Israels zu intervenieren, mit der Begründung, der Vorwurf des Völkermords entbehre jeder Grundlage. Neben einer Zusammenfassung der Parteivorträge und der Eilrechtsschutzentscheidung des IGH vom 26.1.2024 beleuchtet der Beitrag die deutsche Rolle im Hauptsacheverfahren. Vor dem Hintergrund der aktuellen Entscheidung wie auch der Pluralität deutscher historischer Verantwortung droht die geplante Intervention der Glaubwürdigkeit Deutschlands im multilateralen System weiter zu schaden und die Universalität des Völkerrechts auszuhöhlen.

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29 January 2024