ICJ decision on South Africa vs. Israel draws broad support
Ambassador Curtis A. Ward
(02 February 2024) — While some may argue that the provisional decision of the International Court of Justice (the Court or ICJ) did not go far enough in this provisional decision, I am of the view that it was a smart decision. Support for the Court’s decision is broad-based. In its provisional decision, the Court inferred that acts of genocide were occurring in Gaza by the Israeli government, but suggested there was need for further investigations and analyses of Israel’s actions. The Court confirmed that it had jurisdiction to consider whether genocide was being committed by the Israeli government in Gaza, and that the South African government, a party to the Genocide Convention, had the right to bring the case to the ICJ against Israel, also a party to the Convention.
While not ordering a ceasefire, the Court ordered the Netanyahu-led Israeli government to cease all activities which will result in genocide and to silence and hold accountable the government’s allies who promote genocide against the Palestinian people. The Court also ordered the Israeli government to report in 30 days on actions it had taken to carry out the order of the Court. The ICJ also ordered Israel to ensure delivery of humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza.
I started to write a full analysis of the ICJ’s decision and my expectations of full support from Caribbean governments in support of the findings and order of the Court. I should not have been surprised at the less than full support for South Africa and the ICJ decision in a statement issued by the Jamaican government. Knowing that the Jamaican government has had some difficulty deciphering its policy on the Israel-Palestinian issue, I saw the ICJ’s decision as a perfect opportunity to get it right. Instead, the government issued a convoluted statement saying a lot without saying anything.
I was heartened by the response of the Advocates Network (AN) which demanded a statement of full support for South Africa and the ICJ’s decision. The AN raised several of the issues I would have raised. Moreover, AN’s statement was signed by five leading advocate groups in Jamaica: Advocates Network (AN), Jamaica Accountability Meter Portal (JAMP) Jamaica Council of Churches (JCC), National Integrity Action (NIA) and Stand Up for Jamaica (SUFJ).
I was also pleased to receive a statement, “Former Prime Ministers’ and Foreign Ministers’ Statement on Israel’s Genocide in Palestine” signed by five former prime ministers and ministers of foreign affairs of Belize, 29 January 2024, endorsing the ICJ’s decision and calling on Israel to stop actions of genocide against the Palestine people in Gaza.
So, instead of completing my article, I decided to publish the Advocates Network’s statement in its entirety.
From the Advocates Network:
Jamaica must Support the Outcomes of the ICJ Case Submitted by South Africa
Kingston, Jamaica, Monday, January 29, 2024. The Advocates Network is calling on the Prime Minister and Government of Jamaica (GOJ) to support the historic ruling by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on January 26, 2024, which declared that it had jurisdiction to rule in the case filed by South Africa accusing Israel of committing genocide in Gaza and the interim ruling which ordered six provisional measures:
- Israel shall take all measures within its power to prevent all acts within the scope of Genocide Convention Article 2.
- Israel must immediately ensure that its military does not commit acts within the scope of Genocide Convention Article 2.
- Direct and punish all members of the public who engage in the incitement of genocide against Palestinians
- Ensure provision of urgently needed basic services, humanitarian aid
- Prevent the destruction of and ensure the preservation of evidence to allegation of acts of 2
- Israel will submit a report as to how they’re adhering to these orders to the ICJ within 1 month
The United Nations General Assembly resolution on October 27, 2023 called for a “humanitarian truce” and the cessation of the hostilities in the Israeli-Hamas war. We note that Jamaica did not support that resolution or the ICJ proceedings instituted by South Africa against Israel on December 29, 2023. The Application of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide in the Gaza Strip (South Africa v. Israel) alleges that Israel has committed, and is committing, genocidal acts and genocide against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip in violation of the Genocide Convention. On January 18, 2024, five (5) civil society organizations wrote to the Prime Minister requesting his support for the actions taken by South Africa. To date, we have yet to receive a reply (see a copy of the letter below).
As a signatory to the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide since September 1968, and the 2006 Cabinet approval of draft instructions for the implementation of legislation in accordance with provisions under the Convention, this departure from our traditional support for international issues related to human rights and justice continues to be troubling.
Jamaica must lend its support to this historic, global peace movement. Let us truly live up to our reputation of being “likkle but tallawah” and stand up for what is right and just in the world.
Peace, love, and understanding!
For more information, contact:
Rosalea Hamilton – Tel (876) 833-2545
Robert Stephens – Tel (876) 909-6338
Indi Mclymont-Lafayette – Tel (876) 852-8763
Letter to Jamaican Prime Minister Andrews Holness:
January 18, 2024
Dear Prime Minister,
The Advocates Network supported by the Jamaica Council of Churches (JCC), and the advocacy groups listed below, on behalf of the people of Jamaica, call upon your calls the government, to support the South African Government claim against Israel that has been presented to the International Court of Justice (ICJ). We also call on all CARICOM governments to do the same.
The South African Government alleges that Israel’s actions in Gaza since early October amount to genocide, that Israel has “committed and has failed to prevent genocidal acts through killings, physical and mental harm, and the imposition of conditions intended to bring about the destruction of a substantial part of the Palestinian national, racial, and ethnical group.” Israeli forces have so far killed 24,000 Palestinians, including a reported seventy percent being women and children, and displaced hundreds of thousands of Palestinians.
Further, South Africa presented the ICJ with evidence in support of its claim that Israel’s Gaza military assault having surpassed a war with Hamas — the Palestinian militant group that killed 1,200 and kidnapped 240 Israeli citizens — is now an armed offensive against the 2 million Palestinian residents of Gaza. South Africa has asked the ICJ to urgently prevent Israel from committing further crimes against the people of Gaza using “provisional measures to protect against further, severe and irreparable harm to the rights of the Palestinian people under the Genocide Convention, which Israel continues to violate with impunity.”
We noted that in December 2023, the President of the United States, Mr. Joseph Biden, Israel’s strongest ally, asserted that there was ‘indiscriminate bombing ‘ in Gaza by the Israelis. However, the intensity and brutality of the bombings have gotten worse since then. More than fifty (50) countries worldwide, including CARICOM members, Guyana, and St. Vincent, officially support South Africa’s legal initiative against Israel.
Prime Minister, will you join these countries and officially support South Africa’s legal initiative against Israel on behalf of the people of Jamaica?
In 1990, South African anti-apartheid leader, the late Nelson Mandela, likened Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands and the treatment of Palestinians to the oppression of black South Africans under apartheid rule. In thanking the international community for its help in overthrowing the apartheid regime, Mandela said, “We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.” Jamaicans everywhere recall with pride Mandela’s triumphant visit to Jamaica following his release from prison, in which he thanked the government and people for our extraordinary support during South Africa’s struggle against the extended period of wretched control, oppression, and degradation that was the apartheid system. Jamaicans’ support of human rights and justice has not diminished since then. It has grown stronger with time. Tragically, Israel has substantially extended its unjust and devastating control over Palestinians since Mandela’s call for justice.
Jamaica’s historical legacy includes heroic individuals who fearlessly have fought against injustice and the oppression of people here and abroad and have promoted and defended Human Rights and Justice for all. National Heroes Marcus Mosiah Garvey, Norman Manley and Alexander Bustamante, as well as, Michael Manley, and world-renowned freedom fighters Bob Marley and Peter Tosh are among the stand-out Jamaicans of whom we are rightly proud. Further, most of our people who are of African descent, living with the enduring legacies of slavery/colonization, have always supported peace, love, and justice for all and, therefore, reject the inhumanity and injustices of war and genocide.
We, therefore, urge you Prime Minister Holness, on behalf of the government and people of Jamaica, and all CARICOM governments to promptly publicly support the South African government’s initiative that seeks justice on behalf of the people of Gaza and to hold Israel accountable for its actions in a court of law.
Advocates Network (AN)
Jamaica Accountability Meter Portal (JAMP)
Jamaica Council of Churches (JCC)
National Integrity Action (NIA) and
Stand Up for Jamaica (SUFJ)
The AN is a non-partisan alliance of individuals and organizations advocating for human rights and good governance to improve the socio-economic conditions of the people of Jamaica and transform lives. We actively encourage citizen participation in addressing the structural issues of inequality, injustice, discrimination, abuse, violence, corruption, and other social problems that have persisted from our history of slavery/colonization and contributed to human rights abuses and poor governance in Jamaica.