ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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South Africa Invokes Genocide Convention against Israel

The moral force and churning generated by South African actions should impel global action for peace and justice to the Palestinian people.

That the prevention of genocide is a legal and moral obligation is a fairly incontrovertible proposition, insofar as such obligation is an abstract principle. However, when it comes to making this obligation actionable—to stop and prevent the relentless, indiscriminate and imminently irreversible destruction of life and habitat in a tiny strip of land—does the principle in concrete still remain incontrovertible? For, the trial for genocide would put the dominant world order on trial. The South African case in the International Court of Justice (ICJ), invoking the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (Genocide Convention) against Israel and its repercussions, have put the international justice system and the so-called rules-based world order on trial.

On 29 December 2023, South Africa moved the ICJ to hold Israel responsible for the violation of the genocide convention. With the larger objective of bringing Israel to book for the violation, the immediate objective is to get a court order for the provisional measures to bring a halt to the indiscriminate killings and destruction in Gaza. The hearing held in the Hague on 11 and 12 January 2024 was thus not concerned with the determination of whether what is unfolding is genocide or not but the determination of the plausibility of a case for genocide, so that the provisional measures can be passed accordingly. While making such a case, through its application and statements in courts by its counsels, South Africa has presented a horrifying and alarming picture of the unfolding calamity in Gaza.

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Updated On : 27th Jan, 2024
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