I wish all the readers of this blog a very happy New Year and thank you for your support over the years. Do not hesitate to spread the word about spreading the jam!
The new year started with a bang: Palestine has decided to join the International Criminal Court (ICC). It seems unavoidable to write about the issue and there have been a flurry of commentaries in the past week (more particularly see the great overviews from David Luban at Just Security and Amanda Taub at Vox) which comprehensively cover a number of legal issues that arise now and are likely to arise in the future. I won’t re-hash these issues now, as there will be ample time to do so when (if) the time comes.
The one point I want to focus on here is the question of Palestine’s retroactive acceptance of jurisdiction back to last summer. Indeed, in addition to joining the ICC (which, on principle, only has prospective effect as per Article 11(2) of the Rome Statute), Palestine also lodged a declaration under Article 12(3) accepting the Court’s jurisdiction back to the 13 June 2014, in order to cover last summer’s war in Gaza.
This raises the interesting question of whether Palestine can actually do this and whether this falls within the parameters of both Article 12(3) and 11(2). Continue reading
By Catherine Harwood, Leiden University
The Human Rights Council (HRC) resolved on 23 July 2014 to establish an international commission of inquiry to investigate alleged violations of international humanitarian law (IHL) and human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT). Unsurprisingly, this resolution has fuelled the raging political storm surrounding the conflict in Gaza. The political divide is evident in the results of the vote: 27 states in favour, 1 state against, and 17 states abstaining. The main reason put forward by states that did not support the resolution was that it was biased against Israel. But do these concerns hold water?
The United States was alone in voting against the resolution, explaining that it was a “biased and political instrument” that would “create another one-sided mechanism targeting Israel”. This statement referred to a controversial HRC fact-finding mission into Israel’s Operation Cast Lead in 2009. Other states also abstained out of concerns of bias in the resolution. The European Union explained that its members abstained as the text was “unbalanced, inaccurate, and prejudges the outcome of the investigation by making legal statements”, and “fails to condemn explicitly the indiscriminate firing of rockets into Israeli civilian areas as well as to recognize Israel’s legitimate right to defend itself.” The EU does not however consider that the commission holds a one-sided mandate. Some sections of the media take a different view, with headlines such as “UN to investigate Israel’s Gaza offensive” and “UN votes to investigate Israel, not Hamas”.
Are these claims of bias justified? Continue reading