South Africa has taken Israel to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on the charge of genocide. Yesterday, South Africa presented their oral arguments and today, by the time you read this, Israel will have had the opportunity to defend. Because this is an urgent case, South Africa has requested ‘provisional measures’ which include ceasing all military action against Gaza, preventing and punishing genocidal incitement, and to stop perpetrating genocide immediately. The court will rule on these provisions in the next few weeks. If the court also believes that South Africa has put forth a reasonable claim of genocide, they will move the application forward. A ruling for whether Israel is indeed committing genocide will likely take years. 

But what does South Africa have to do with the genocide in Gaza? As a signatory of the UN Genocide Convention, South Africa or any other nation has the ability—and responsibility—to hold other signatories of the convention, including Israel, to account. But there is more significance in the leadership of South Africa in this case; a state once governed by apartheid themselves has produced a generation who knows the struggle of liberation from colonial occupation and thereby are not only acting in consciousness but also in a show of solidarity as a global majority nation who is also up against Western imperial powers. 

Am I hopeful? Yes. It’s hard not to get goosebumps listening to the South African legal team uplift and validate Palestinian voices and watch as dozens of nations get in line to support South Africa’s case.    

But I’m also wary. The International Court of Justice is the highest world court, created and upheld by the United Nations. And the United Nations, along with all the other institutions of Western imperialism have been built to sustain white supremacy. In the hearing yesterday, Blinne Ní Ghrálaigh, one of the lawyers representing South Africa, stated that the “international community continues to fail the Palestinian people.” This statement is true, not because of some fault or loophole in the system, but because the system is intentionally built this way. And just as the world has failed Palestine, if we continue this path of “global diplomacy” (read: neocolonial racial capitalism) we will continue to fail other communities living in the stranglehold of these systems.

Just hours after South Africa’s oral arguments in the Hague, the U.S. and British militaries bypassed congressional approval and carried out several bombings against Houthi rebels in Yemen, who are blocking international ships linked to or travelling to Israel until they cease attacks on Gaza.

Global powers know no limits and their ‘holier than thou’ standards of human rights, international law, treaties and conventions only apply when it’s convenient for their objectives.

Let us hold onto hope, but a broader hope of a new world order as these current powers continue to crumble.

Hannah Redekop

Hannah Redekop

CPT Communications Associate

Send Hannah a note: peacemakers@cpt.org

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