Nicaragua Hits Germany with ICJ Case for Aiding Israel in Gaza Genocide

JUSTICE, 4 Mar 2024

Jessica Corbett | Common Dreams – TRANSCEND Media Service

A Palestinian child injured in Israeli airstrikes arrives at Kuwait Hospital in Rafah, Gaza on 1 Mar 2024.
(Photo: Ahmad Hasaballah/Getty Images)

“The Global South strikes again against the morally and politically decayed West,” said one supporter of the case.

1 Mar 2024 – Nicaragua today launched a case against Germany at the International Court of Justice, accusing the nation responsible for the deaths of 6 million Jews during the Holocaust of helping Israel commit genocide in the Gaza Strip over the past five months.

Germany has provided financial, military, and political support to Israel and halted contributions to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East in response to unverified Israeli allegations that a dozen employees were involved in the Hamas-led attack that sparked the war on October 7.

Nicaragua’s application to the ICJ argues that Germany “has not only failed to fulfill its obligation to prevent the genocide committed and being committed against the Palestinian people… but has contributed to the commission of genocide in violation of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.”

“Although the United States richly deserves it too, it would be difficult for Nicaragua to successfully sue the United States… because of its disingenuous reservation to Article 9 of the Genocide Convention denying such jurisdiction to the World Court.”

Germany has also “failed to comply with its obligations under international humanitarian law, derived both from the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and its Protocols of 1977 and from the intransgressible principles of international humanitarian law,
by not respecting its obligations to ensure respect for these fundamental norms in all circumstances,” the document states.

The application further accuses Germany of failing to “comply with other peremptory norms of general international law” by rendering aid or assistance “in maintaining the illegal situation of the continued military occupation of Palestine including its ongoing, unlawful attack in Gaza,” as well as “not preventing the illegal regime of apartheid and the negation of the right of self-determination of the Palestinian people.”

Nicaragua is seeking emergency action from the ICJ, which has already taken a genocide case against Israel led by South Africa. The U.N. court issued provisional measures for that case in January—though rights groups said this week that Israeli forces are ignoring them—and last month reiterated Israel’s obligations under the Genocide Convention.

“When emergency measures are requested, the ICJ usually sets a date for a hearing within weeks of a case being filed,” noted Deutsche Welle. The German public broadcaster also reported that there was no comment from Berlin.

While the case against Germany was widely welcomed by Palestinian rights advocates around the world, many also pointed out that—as Michael Paarlberg an assistant professor of political science at Virginia Commonwealth University, put it—Nicaragua is “maybe not the best plaintiff for making charges of human rights violations.”

In its latest annual report on Nicaragua, Human Rights Watch states that “the government of President Daniel Ortega and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo, deepened its systematic repression against critics, journalists, and human rights defenders. Dozens of people arbitrarily detained remain behind bars.”

As the U.N. Group of Human Rights Experts on Nicaragua released its own report Wednesday, its chair, Jan Simon, said that Ortega, Murillo, and other top officials “should be held accountable by the international community, as should Nicaragua as a state that goes after its own people, targeting university students, Indigenous people, people of African descent, campesinos, and members of the Catholic Church and other Christian denominations.”

Nicaragua’s filing at the World Court, as it’s also called, comes as Israeli forces have killed over 30,200 Palestinians in Gaza and injured 71,000 more. Most of the Hamas-governed enclave’s 2.3 million residents are displaced. They face devastated civilian infrastructure and limited supplies of food, water, and medicine, as Israel restricts humanitarian aid. Children are starving to death.

The Central American country’s move follows lawyers in Germany who represent Palestinian families suing top German officials, including Chancellor Olaf Scholz, for “aiding and abetting” Israel’s genocide in the federal court last week.

University of Illinois College of Law professor Francis Boyle told Jordanian-Palestinian writer Sam Husseini that Nicaragua’s application “could lead to World Court lawsuits… for aiding and abetting Israeli genocide against the Palestinians, an emergency hearing by the World Court, another round of oral arguments, and new provisional measures of protection for the benefit of the Palestinians.”

New provisional measures would go to the U.N. Security Council—where the U.S. has veto power—for enforcement, he said, and, “if that does not succeed, to the United Nations General Assembly for enforcement under the Uniting for Peace Resolution (1950),”

“It is telling that Nicaragua is doing this because they won a resounding World Court lawsuit against the United States from 1984 to 1986 for illegally mining their harbors,” Boyle added. He also explained why the United States isn’t expected to face an ICJ case, despite giving Israel nearly $4 billion in annual military aid.

“Although the United States richly deserves it too, it would be difficult for Nicaragua to successfully sue the United States for aiding and abetting Israeli genocide against the Palestinians because of its disingenuous reservation to Article 9 of the Genocide Convention denying such jurisdiction to the World Court,” he said.

However, there is a U.S. genocide complicity case in the federal court system. The Center for Constitutional Rights has sued U.S. President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin on behalf of groups and Palestinians in Gaza and the United States. After a district-level dismissal, an appeal hearing is expected in June.



Jessica Corbett is a senior editor and staff writer for Common Dreams. Full Bio >


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