“There is an opportunity for us today, as Arab countries, to file a lawsuit before the International Court of Justice against the Zionist entity, after it has been proven to be involved in committing crimes of genocide and ethnic cleansing against Palestinians and Gazans.”
With this statement, expert in international law and member of the International Network for the Palestinian Cause, lawyer Dr. Anis Al-Qassem, summed up what can be done and adopted today to stop the war and genocide waged against the Palestinians since the events of October 7, pointing out that any Arab and international country, and even human rights and humanitarian institutions, can file a complaint against the occupation.
Al-Qassem’s speech came during the seminar: “The Role of International Law in Confronting Crimes of Ethnic Cleansing”, held by the Arab Renaissance for Democracy and Development (ARDD), on Thursday, November 16, 2023, and moderated by the Executive Director of the organization, Samar Muhareb, within the framework of the Palestinian Cause program, and within the first group of a series of seminars that will be held successively to follow up on, record, and document the developments of the war in Palestine.
In her introduction of Al-Qassem, Muhareb stressed “the importance of legal movements on the Arab, global, and individual levels, so that we have a record proving the illegality of the occupation, which requires efforts at all levels,” emphasizing in this context the need to draw the attention of human rights advocates and specialized institutions to the Palestinian Cause, as well as supporting lawyers and young defenders in their work for the Cause. Al-Qassem cited a recent judicial precedent in which the International Court of Justice ruled in favor of the State of The Gambia (a West African countries), after adopting a lawsuit against the Republic of Myanmar (Burma) last year, for genocide crimes against Rohingya Muslims, considering that there is a real opportunity to file a lawsuit with the International Court of Justice, which is competent to adjudicate disputes that arise between countries.
According to Al-Qassem, there is another opportunity for individuals to file a lawsuit with the International Criminal Court, which is competent to try individuals for genocide, declaring his legal readiness to file a lawsuit on behalf of any state, institution, or individual; “The important thing is that we act with all our strength and in an orderly and urgent manner,” he said.
Regarding the war on Gaza and what happened on October 7, Al-Qassem stressed that the recent events have redirected the world’s compass towards the Palestinian Cause, especially among young people, which we have seen abroad, as millions of advocates, activists, and human rights defenders came out to support the Palestinians, which is very important in the developments of the Palestinian Cause and is in our international interest.
According to Al-Qassem, the ICC allows individuals or organizations to file complaints before it within its jurisdiction, whether for genocide, crimes against humanity, or war crimes, but it did not stand with Palestine before as it rejected Palestine’s accession to the Rome Statute in 2009, by its first first prosecutor, Luis Ocampo, who issued a decision declaring Palestine not a state.
Al-Qassem went on to explain that the work of the International Court of Justice falls within the framework of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, a treaty unanimously adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 9, 1948, and which came into force in 1951, while it has been signed so far by 15 Arab and Islamic countries, and ratified by 152 member states of the United Nations.
Furthermore, He pointed out that international law allows the right of self-defense to those who fall under occupation, as the right of self-defense is legitimate in three cases, namely: “resistance by the people under occupation, under colonial domination, or against an apartheid regime.”
According to lawyer Al-Qassem, the lie marketed by the United States and the occupation, by classifying the Palestinian resistance as terrorists, has no basis in international law, indicating that the occupation keeps violating its obligations, as evidenced by the massacres committed against women, children and defenseless people, as well as the violation of all rules of war.
In conclusion, Al-Qassem and the participants in the seminar stressed that Western awareness of what is happening in Gaza is linked to influencing public opinion. Hence, all human rights, media, and civil institutions must lobby and work institutionally to expose the war crimes perpetrated by the occupation against the Palestinians on a daily basis, with an emphasis on educating future generations about the Palestinian Cause, as well as paying attention to the Zionist colonial expansion in the Arab world.
It is noteworthy that Article 3 of the Geneva Convention prohibits attacks on persons who do not take part in hostilities, including civilians, and Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention prohibits collective punishment, intimidation measures, and terrorism against civilians in the occupied territories, while Article 27 of the Fourth Geneva Convention emphasizes the protection of civilians and respect for their person, honor, and rights, in addition to the protection of the right to life contained in Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and therefore any military invasion violates these provisions and constitutes a serious crime.