South Africa is taking Israel to the World Court! South Africa has taken the principled step of invoking the UN’s Genocide Convention which enables the Court to impose “provisional measures,” including an end to Israel’s military operations against Gaza. Many other countries have expressed support for South Africa’s genocide case against Israel, and as a signatory to the Genocide Convention, Canada has an obligation to oppose genocide too. This may be the world’s best chance of ending Israel’s murderous carnage in Gaza.
Use the fields below to send an email to Foreign Affairs Minister Joly, other federal leaders and your local MP. Canada must support South Africa’s attempt to hold Israel accountable at the ICJ and halt the unfolding genocide in Gaza!
At the end of December, South Africa invoked the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (‘Genocide Convention’) to initiate proceedings against Israel, another State party, based on its obligations to prevent and punish genocide. Initial public hearings have been scheduled for January 11 and 12, 2024, and Israel has announced that it will participate.
South Africa's 84-page application to the ICJ substantiates two grave allegations: first, that Israel has “failed to prevent genocide and has failed to prosecute the direct and public incitement to genocide”; and second, that “Israel has engaged in, is engaging in and risks further engaging in genocidal acts against the Palestinian people in Gaza.” These acts include killing Palestinians in Gaza, causing them serious bodily and mental harm, and inflicting on them conditions of life calculated to bring about their physical destruction. Such acts are alleged to be “genocidal in character because they are intended to bring about the destruction of a substantial part of the Palestinian national, racial and ethnical group, that being the part of the Palestinian group in the Gaza Strip.”
While a final judgement on the merits of the charge of genocide will be years away, South Africa is requesting as a “matter of extreme urgency” a series of provisional measures that would apply immediately and extend for the duration of the trial. These measures include the immediate suspension of Israel’s military operations against Gaza, an end to Israel’s mass displacement of the population of Gaza, and an end to Israel’s deprivation of food, water, and other essential supplies to that population.
As a State party to the Genocide Convention, Canada can intervene in the proceedings as a State party in support of South Africa, either now or during potential proceedings on the merits. Last week, CJPME sent a letter to Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly urging Canada to put its full weight behind South Africa’s application against Israel, and make a formal submission to the ICJ expressing its support.
However, CJPME is concerned that Canada will end up attempting to undermine South Africa’s case. According to reports, Israel has launched a major diplomatic campaign asking key allies to issue statements opposing South Africa’s application, and Canada will be under a lot of pressure to side with Israel. Just last year, at Israel’s request, Canada quietly asked the ICJ to decline to make an advisory opinion on the legal consequences of Israel’s actions in the occupied Palestinian territories. We must let this government know that we expect them to live up to its legal obligations and do everything it can to prevent and punish genocide wherever it occurs.