Belgium Urge to Intervene in Case against Israel at ICJ

Brussels, MINA – Belgian international law professors urged the country to intervene in South Africa’s genocide case against Israel at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), Anadolu Agency reports.

An open letter by 19 professors was published in De Morgen newspaper that emphasised that Belgium, as a party to the Genocide Convention, has an obligation to act when a serious risk of genocide arises.

It said the Convention not only prohibits genocide but obliges contracting countries to intervene.

On the other hand, it was stated that Belgium, like South Africa, was obliged to prevent and punish genocide and could fulfil that obligation by applying to the Court of Justice.

It was emphasised that Belgium’s intervention would strengthen the position on the prevention of genocide and the prohibition of incitement to genocide, both in the current situation and in future conflicts.

The letter said, among the issues requiring intervention are the deliberate destruction of humanitarian infrastructure in the Gaza Strip and Israeli actions that demonstrate genocidal intent.

The lawyers said intervention before the Hague-based ICJ delivers its judgment would help interpret the current situation in Gaza as an act of “genocide”, condemn the destruction of humanitarian infrastructure and prevent such acts in the future. It would also address Israel’s policy of not seeing Palestinians as humans.

Regarding Israel’s claim that it exercised its right to “self-defence”, legal experts emphasised that Belgium’s involvement could contribute to clarifying that the right does not justify violence against civilians.

Legal experts stressed that intervening in the case under Article 63 does not mean “taking sides” and that the step aims to ensure the correct application and interpretation of the Genocide Convention.

The professors who signed the letter include Dimitri Van Den Meerssche of the Queen Mary University of London, Jean d’Aspremont of the Institute of Political Studies (SciencesPo) in Paris, Eva Brems, Tine Destrooper and Brigitte Herremans of Ghent University, Olivier Corten, François Dubuisson, Anne Lagerwall and Pierre Kleine from the Free University of Brussels, Koen De Feyter, Mathias Holvoet, Thalia Kruger, Wouter Vandenhole and Gamze Erdem Turkelli from the University of Antwerp, Jérôme de Hemptinne, Raphaël Van Steenberghe and Olivier De Schutter from the Catholic University of Leuven, Kati Verstrepen, President of the Human Rights Association and Honorary Advocate, Paul Bekaert.

On 29 December, 2023, the Republic of South Africa filed a lawsuit with the ICJ requesting an injunction against Israel on the grounds that Israel’s attacks on Gaza violated the Genocide Convention.

South Africa is requesting the ICJ to grant nine interim injunctions, including that Israel immediately cease its military operations in Gaza, take reasonable measures to prevent the genocide of Palestinians, ensure that the displaced return to their homes and have access to humanitarian assistance, including adequate food, water, fuel, medical and hygiene supplies, shelter and clothing, take necessary steps to punish those involved in the genocide and preserve the evidence of genocide.

South Africa also requested the ICJ to grant an injunction due to the urgency of the situation. Following the completion of hearings on 11-12 January, the Court began deliberations after examining the parties’ submissions and evidence.

Belgian Deputy Prime Minister, Petra De Sutter, also made a similar call and said her country could not remain silent against Israel’s threat of genocide in Gaza and urged support for the lawsuit filed by South Africa.

De Sutter, the representative of the Flemish Green Party in the ruling coalition, made a statement on 9 January  on X.

“Belgium cannot just watch from the sidelines the endless suffering of the people in Gaza. We must act against the threat of genocide. I want Belgium to follow South Africa’s lead and take action at the International Court of Justice. I will make this proposal to the Belgian government,” she wrote. (T/RE1/P2)

Mi’raj News Agency (MINA)