09 January 2024
On 9 January 2024, the Australian Centre for International Justice wrote to the Prime Minister, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Attorney-General requesting the Australian Government provide its full support to South Africa’s application at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) against Israel alleging breaches under the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide against the Palestinian people in Gaza.
While it will take years to obtain a final judgment on the merits of the charge of genocide, South Africa is requesting a series of provisional measures that would apply immediately, and extend for the duration of the application. These measures include the immediate suspension of Israel’s military operations and to protect Palestinian rights from “further, severe and irreparable harm.” The application further requests provisional measures aimed at ending the deprivation of access to adequate food and water, humanitarian assistance, and medical supplies, and ending the expulsion and forced displacement of the Palestinian population from their homes.
The public hearings have been scheduled for this week on Thursday 11 and Friday 12 January 2024.
ACIJ has requested the Australian Government issue a public statement in support of South Africa’s application which should emphasise its respect for the ICJ and demonstrate that it is aware of its own responsibilities under the Genocide Convention to take all reasonable steps to prevent genocide.
ACIJ states that if Australia is not currently prepared to issue a public statement of support for South Africa’s application, we urge the Government should nevertheless issue a statement outlining Australia’s support for the ICJ and its important role in the peaceful settlement of disputes and that its commitment to the rules-based international is applied consistently and without discrimination.
Finally, if for some reason Australia chooses not to support South Africa’s application, ACIJ urges the Government to ‘do no harm’ to the effort to hold Israel accountable, and at the very least refrain from taking any action, including through statements, to oppose or undermine South Africa’s efforts to seek stop the genocide unfolding in Gaza.