Canada should add its voice to South Africa’s bid to curtail Israel’s atrocities in Gaza.

Take a moment to send a letter to Prime Minister Trudeau and Foreign Minister Joly.

Join Gabor Mate, Rawi Hage, Roger Waters, Libby Davies, Michael Lynk, Richard Falk, Avi Lewis and over a 1,000 others along with 150+ organizations including CUPE Ontario, the BC Civil Liberties Association, Law Union of Ontario, in calling on Trudeau to back South Africa’s case against Israel’s genocide

The South African government recently requested the International Court of Justice (ICJ) make an urgent order declaring Israel in breach of its obligations under the 1948 Genocide Convention. This is an important non-violent effort to curtail the destruction of Gaza, which has seen 23 000 killed, 2 million displaced and half a million threatened by famine.

South Africa’s 84-page brief to the ICJ argues that Israel’s operations “are genocidal in character because they are intended to bring about the destruction of a substantial part” of the Palestinian population in Gaza. According to Israel’s Haaretz a senior government legal expert has warned the country’s military commanders that “there is a real danger that the court will issue an injunction calling on Israel to halt its fire.”

The Trudeau government has thus far refused to endorse South Africa’s case to the ICJ even though Ottawa has backed similar efforts concerning Myanmar, Russia and elsewhere.

Trudeau has failed to support the ICJ submission despite calls from the NDP, the Green Party and members of liberal caucus call to do so.

At least a thousand civil society groups and the 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Bolivia, Turkey, Jordan, Maldives, Iran, Venezuela, Brazil, Malaysia, and others have publicly endorsed South Africa’s case. As a signatory to the Genocide Convention, Canada has an obligation to seek to prevent and punish the crime of genocide. Canada should add its voice to South Africa’s bid to curtail Israel’s horrors in Gaza.

The Statement

As civil society leaders and legal experts and concerned citizens, we look to the Canadian government to  uphold its international legal obligation to prevent genocide, by supporting South Africa’s complaint to the International Court of Justice regarding Israel’s genocidal military operations against Palestinians in Gaza.

The complaint and urgent request for provisional measures is an important legal      effort to curtail the ongoing destruction of Gaza and, crucially, the Palestinian population for whom Gaza is home. As South Africa’s 84-page submission to the Court documents, citing findings by UN bodies and other authoritative human rights and humanitarian organizations:

“Israel’s military attacks on Gaza have involved the sustained bombardment over more than 11 weeks of one of the most densely populated places in the world, forcing the evacuation of 1.9 million people or 85% of the population of Gaza from their homes and herding them into ever smaller areas, without adequate shelter, in which they continue to be attacked, killed and harmed. Israel has now killed in excess of 21,110 named Palestinians, including over 7,729 children […] and has injured over 55,243 others […] Israel has reduced and is continuing to reduce Gaza to rubble, killing, harming and destroying its people, and creating conditions of life calculated to bring about their physical destruction as a group.”

This toll has only continued to rise – not only daily, but hourly – since the filing of the case.    

South Africa’s submission also compiles, in eight pages, statements from Israeli officials demonstrating genocidal intent, defined in the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide as an intent to destroy a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group in whole or in part. The grave danger of genocide in Gaza has been recognized by 50 UN Special Rapporteurs and members of UN Working Groups, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the International Commission of Jurists, and hundreds of other international law and genocide experts.

As a spokesperson for Global Affairs Canada recently affirmed, “Canada strongly supports the role of the ICJ in the peaceful settlement of disputes.” Indeed, the Canadian government has recently endorsed, intervened in, or even initiated cases at the ICJ concerning genocide in Myanmar and Ukraine, torture in Syria, and the downing of Flight PS752 by Iran.

In their Declarations of Intervention to the ICJ in the Rohingya genocide case, Canada and five other co-signatories stated that the evidence of genocide can include “a violent military operation triggering the forced displacement of members of the targeted group,” as well as “subjecting a group of people to a subsistence diet, systematic expulsion from homes and the induction of essential medical services below minimum requirement”: arguments that apply equally to the conditions created by Israel in Gaza.

We draw to your attention the important statement that has been made by the French government confirming that they will abide by the ICJ ruling on South Africa’s complaint when it is issued. We call on your government to make that same commitment, which would be in keeping with Canada’s consistent support for the vital role of the ICJ in upholding the global rule of law.

The absolute prohibition against genocide is what is known in international law as an obligation erga omnes – meaning that any violation is a violation not only against the direct targets, but against the international community as a whole. As such, the entire international community also has a responsibility to act to prevent such violations and respond when they occur.  

We applaud South Africa for honouring the fundamental legal imperative to prevent and stop genocide, and exhort Canada to fulfill its own obligations by supporting South Africa’s timely and necessary initiative at the ICJ.

View press conference and list of signatories.

Initiated by

The Canadian Foreign Policy Institute

Just Peace Advocates

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