South Africa Invokes Genocide Convention against Israel


ScheerPost - TRANSCEND Media Service

ICJ International Court of Justice – United Nations

South Africa becomes the first country to approach the International Court of Justice and invoke the Genocide Convention with regard to Israel’s attacks on Palestinians.

29 Dec 2023 – South Africa has invoked the Genocide Convention against Israel in a statement that accuses the country of violating its obligations under the 1948 treaty. The appeal to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) asks to issue measures to stop Israel’s attack on Palestinians in Gaza.The ICJ is the United Nations’ highest court and has been cited previously on ScheerPost by journalists Marjorie Cohn and Sam Husseini as the key figure that can make a difference as opposed to the International Criminal Court (ICC), which has been investigating Israel’s war crimes for three years. Palestinian human rights organizations have expressed their frustration with the pace of the ICC investigation and lack of concrete steps taken towards advancing it.

Below is the statement from the South African government:

South Africa approaches the International Court of Justice under the Genocide Convention with respect to acts committed by Israel in the context of its attacks on Gaza

South Africa is gravely concerned with the plight of civilians caught in the present Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip due to the indiscriminate use of force and forcible removal of inhabitants. Furthermore, there are ongoing reports of international crimes, such as crimes against humanity and war crimes, being committed as well as reports that acts meeting the threshold of genocide or related crimes as defined in the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide, have been and may still be committed in the context of the ongoing massacres in Gaza.

South Africa has repeatedly stated that it condemns all violence and attacks against all civilians, including Israelis. Moreover, South Africa has continuously called for an immediate and permanent ceasefire and the resumption of talks that will end the violence arising from the continued belligerent occupation of Palestine.

As a State Party to the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, South Africa is under a treaty obligation to prevent genocide from occurring.

Therefore, at a special meeting held on 8 December 2023, Cabinet directed that the International Court of Justice in The Hague be approached to obtain an order directing Israel, which is also a State Party, to refrain from any acts that may constitute genocide or related crimes under the Convention. An application in this regard was filed before the Court on 29 December 2023 in which the Court is requested to declare on an urgent basis that Israel is in breach of its obligations in terms of the Genocide Convention, should immediately cease all acts and measures in breach of those obligations and take a number of related actions.


United Nations Headquarters
John Samuel, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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