What’s Next for South Africa’s Genocide Case Against Israel?
- Several short and long-term steps will be taken following the International Court of Justice’s (ICJ) preliminary ruling on South Africa’s genocide case against Israel.
- By February 26, Israel will submit its report on actions taken to fulfill the orders. South Africa will have a chance to respond. The ICJ will evaluate the report and on-the-ground situation to determine if Israel is abiding by the orders.
- The ICJ will then proceed with additional hearings and deliberations on evidence provided by South Africa, and Israel’s defense.
- Judges will individually evaluate South Africa’s claims and make a majority decision. Estimates anticipate that this could take three to four years.
- Experts note that the ICJ lacks enforcement capacity.
- While the Security Council is formally responsible for enforcement, permanent members can veto efforts at enforcement.
- Evidence provided in the ICJ can be relevant for decisions made in other courts, such as the ICC, which prosecutes individuals.
ICJ Votes to Order Six Provisional Measures to Israel
- ICJ ordered six provisional measures to Israel on January 26.
- Israel was ordered to “take all measures within its power” to prevent genocide in Gaza. Regarding actions towards Palestinian civilians, this includes refraining from “killing,” causing “serious bodily or mental harm,” bringing about their “physical destruction,” or “imposing measures to prevent births.” Approved 15-2.
- Israel must ensure its military does not commit any of the above acts. Approved 15-2.
- Israel must “prevent and punish” incitement to commit genocide. Approved 16-1.
- Israel must allow for the provision of urgent humanitarian aid to Gaza. Approved 16-1.
- Israel must prevent the destruction and ensure the preservation of evidence of violations of the Genocide Convention. Approved 15-2.
- By February 26, Israel must submit a report to the ICJ on measures it has taken to apply the above orders. Approved 15-2.
- The court came short of calling for a ceasefire but found that South Africa’s claims that Israel violated the Genocide Convention are “plausible.”
- Ugandan justice Julia Sebutinde voted against all six orders, arguing that the dispute was a political, rather than a legal matter.
- Uganda’s government later issued a statement stating Sebutinde’s position reflected her own “individual and independent opinion,” and was not reflective of the government of Uganda.
- Israeli justice Aharon Barak approved the orders for Israel to “prevent and punish” incitement to commit genocide and to enable the provision of urgent humanitarian aid. Barak voted against the other four orders.
Additional Active ICJ Hearings Pertaining to Genocide
- In addition to the South Africa case against Israel, two cases pertaining to genocide are pending or under deliberation:
- In 2022, “Ukraine filed an application against Russia concerning ‘a dispute’ on the interpretation, application and fulfilment of the Genocide Convention.”
- The ICJ ruled that Russia should suspend its military operations.
- On Friday, the ICJ will rule on whether it will hear the case “in which Ukraine has accused Russia of violating international law by saying its invasion was launched to stop an alleged genocide.”
- In 2019, The Gambia filed an application “instituting proceedings against Myanmar concerning alleged violations of the Genocide Convention,” citing the victim as members of the Rohingya group.
- Provisional measures were ruled on in early 2020.
- In late 2023, several countries filed a joint declaration of intervention in this case.
(Image: Ontheway Advice)