How Far Can We Rely Upon the International Court of Justice? Featured

By Dr. Hazem Ali Maher February 19, 2024 813

Since South Africa filed its case with the International Court of Justice (ICJ) accusing the Zionist entity of committing genocide in Gaza, discussions and commentaries on this matter have flooded in. Some downplay the significance of this lawsuit and its expected consequences, while others treat it as if the liberation of Gaza and all of Palestine from the Zionist occupation depends solely on the judgment that the ICJ will issue on this matter!

In reality, each direction, whether downplaying or exaggerating the resort to the ICJ, has its strong justifications. The side that underestimates resorting to the ICJ argues that even if the court condemns the Zionists for committing genocide in Palestine, it will refer the matter to the United Nations Security Council to make a decision aimed at an immediate cessation of the war. Such a decision is impossible to reach under the existing “veto power,” as it’s already known.

On the other hand, the direction that dramatizes the lawsuit against the Zionists speaks as if the court will liberate Palestine, considering that its anticipated ruling will expose the Zionists and reveal their “Nazism.” This direction believes that this ruling will not be hindered by the “veto power,” as the impact of the judgment will be strong enough to pull the rug out from under the feet of major powers supporting Zionism, negatively affecting them. It is also seen as a cover that reinforces the possibility of pursuing Zionist criminals, their instigators, and supporters criminally.



International law faces a complex crisis, limiting any hopes of achieving justice globally

We are not now in a position to discuss the arguments in each direction. In this article, we seek to understand reality as it is, enabling us to deal with it according to its facts without soaring in imagination or clinging to illusions. Likewise, we do not want to waste any opportunities that may be available that we can leverage to support our most crucial cause—the Palestinian cause.


Important Facts

 There are several important facts that should be considered when addressing this issue to place it within a realistic framework so we can be fully aware of it and approach it effectively. Among these:

Firstly, contemporary international law (as well as the international system) is facing a complex and intricate crisis. This crisis threatens even its description as law, or at least hinders the hopes pinned on it for achieving justice globally. This law usually lacks the binding element required for a rule to be considered a legal rule, as well as the element of retribution, which requires the existence of an authority higher than the authority of states to impose it.

This is based on the requirement set by the English philosopher and legal scholar John Aston (1790–1859), who stipulated the necessity of a sovereign authority issuing orders and having the power to impose punishment on those who violate them. He argued that the absence of such sovereign authority in “international law” makes its rules mere ethical principles.

Despite the numerous criticisms that are and continue to be directed at Aston’s theory claiming that there are indeed authorities above the states, such as the United Nations and its six bodies, with the Security Council and its judicial body, the International Court of Justice, at the forefront, reality speaks differently. The enforcement of the most important decisions of the United Nations, those related to maintaining international peace and security, depends on the political will of the five most powerful countries in the world collectively: the United States, Russia, Britain, France, and China. If at least one of these countries objects, it can hinder the issuance of the contested decision, even if that decision is based on a sentence of the ICJ!


South Africa's lawsuit is a highly significant step that could expose the Zionists and their supporters

Even if we consider that the wills of these five countries dominate those of the rest of the world, further completing the deficiencies in international law, then these “sovereign nations” would resemble, in essence, the dominant “sovereign authorities” in authoritarian (dictatorial) states. They act as the legislator, judge, and executor simultaneously, never truly deserving the title of a “state of law” but rather a “jungle law state.” Unfortunately, this is the current state of international law and systems!

The evidence lies in the fact that the Western perspective originates from the view that international relations, both individual and societal, are a constant struggle where survival favors the strongest rather than the fittest. This viewpoint has influenced the nature of Western intellectual products, including international law in general and the charters of international organizations in particular, other than some loopholes that the oppressed may exploit to try to survive the injustices of the international system in an attempt to fix it and redirect it towards supporting the oppressed.


The Products of Western Policy

Secondly, the Zionist entity itself is one of the products of Western intellect and politics. The idea of creating this entity began with the issuance of the British promise to establish it (the Balfour Declaration in 1917). It was eventually declared in 1948 with Western sponsorship (British, American, French, Russian, etc.). The United States decided to replace the British and French in their direct military occupation of Islamic and other developing countries with a new form of remote control occupation. They kept a military force in Palestine that America and its allies used for coercion, intimidation, and fragmentation. Thus, it revealed that the controller of issuing the rules of contemporary international law and their application is the same as the founder of the Zionist entity and its supporter.

Thirdly, the country that recognized this dark reality was the independent and free state of South Africa. It relied on the “Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide” and filed a lawsuit before the ICJ to stop the genocide war waged by the Zionist entity against Gaza. They requested the expedited issuance of “provisional measures” under Article 41 of the Court's Statute to safeguard the rights of the Palestinians and stop the war. This is considered a very significant step aiming to expose the Zionists and their Western supporters, especially if the Court decides to impose temporary measures preventing the continuation of the war until the final ruling of the case.

Fourthly, while this courageous step by the state of South Africa provides legal, judicial, political, literary, and media support for the Palestinians, it will not liberate Palestine. Instead, it will be liberated by its own people, who have already begun their war for liberation on October 7th of last year after realizing, through accumulated experiences with the occupation, that this is the only way to achieve independence.

Fortunately, the measures taken by the ICJ and its awaited decision will confirm the legitimacy and just choice of this resistance according to the rules of international law itself, even in this weakened state and even if the “veto” is used against the decision.


Read the Article in Arabic


Last modified on Sunday, 24 March 2024 11:16