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Gaza war: UN court: Why is Nicaragua suing Germany?

Gaza war: UN court: Why is Nicaragua suing Germany?

Germany must answer before the International Court of Justice in The Hague for aiding and abetting genocide. Why Germany of all places? And what can the judges decide now?

The Gaza war also concerns international courts. With unusual actors. Germany has to answer before the International Court of Justice in The Hague for aiding and abetting genocide.

Nicaragua, a country accused of numerous human rights violations, sued. Today, this highest court of the United Nations makes a preliminary decision. What is it about and what consequences can it have?

What is Germany accused of?

Nicaragua accuses Germany of “aiding and abetting genocide.” From Nicaragua’s perspective, arms deliveries to Israel enable “genocide” to be committed in the Gaza Strip. As an argument, Nicaragua cites the fact that Germany approved arms deliveries to Israel for 326.5 million euros last year, ten times as much as the previous year.

Nicaragua also accuses Germany of putting aid to the UN Palestinian relief agency UNRWA in the Gaza Strip on hold. The reason was, among other things, Israel’s allegations that aid agency employees were involved in the massacres on October 7th. In addition, Hamas is said to have infiltrated the aid organization.

The federal government has now announced that it wants to continue its cooperation with UNRWA. The background is the recommendations of a report by the group set up by the United Nations under the leadership of the former French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna. Accordingly, there must be improvements in key areas of UNRWA, including maintaining the principle of neutrality.

What does Nicaragua demand?

Nicaragua had also filed an urgent application with the lawsuit and is demanding an order from the judges in an expedited procedure that Germany stop supplying arms to Israel.

What does Germany say?

Germany rejected the allegations as baseless at the hearing about four weeks ago in the Peace Palace in The Hague. “These allegations have no legal or factual basis,” said the head of the German delegation, Tania von Uslar-Gleichen. Germany is violating neither the Genocide Convention nor international humanitarian law.

According to German information, 98 percent of the armaments were not military weapons, but rather general goods such as helmets or protective vests. And regarding the suspension of humanitarian aid, Germany stated that it is still one of the largest donor countries for the Palestinian territories. By the way, the money is now being paid to the relief organization again.

Why is Nicaragua, of all places, complaining?

The Central American country, which is itself under international scrutiny for human rights violations, invokes the Genocide Convention. Signatory states undertake to do everything possible to prevent genocide. This means that third countries can also hold others responsible.

Why Germany of all places?

Germany recognizes the jurisdiction of the UN court and is one of Israel’s closest allies. The USA, for example – Israel’s largest arms supplier and also a close ally – does not recognize the court in this case and therefore cannot be prosecuted.

The convention also appears to be an instrument for third countries to exert political pressure on Israel’s allies.

Is it the first lawsuit?

Certainly not. It was only at the end of 2023 that South Africa sued Israel before the Court of Justice for genocide. The urgent motion called for a ceasefire. The judges did not agree, but gave Israel a surprisingly clear warning to do everything possible to prevent genocide.

Proceedings brought by Gambia against Myanmar are currently underway. On behalf of Muslim states, it accuses Myanmar of genocide against the Muslim Rohingya minority.

What can the judges decide now?

You can dismiss the lawsuit because the allegations are not substantiated.

But they can also say that they are not responsible at all. Germany thinks so too. Nicaragua did not try to resolve the conflict with Germany. And that is the prerequisite before the UN court can even be involved.

The judges can also order that Germany no longer supply weapons, at least until the genocide allegations against Israel have been clarified.

And what does Israel say about the allegations?

Israel is not a party to the lawsuit in this case, but has previously rejected the allegations of genocide. It invokes its right to self-defense after the massacres by the Islamist Hamas and other extremist Palestinian organizations on October 7th. Around 1,200 people were killed and more than 250 were taken hostage in the Gaza Strip. Israel’s subsequent attacks on the Gaza Strip killed around 34,500 people, according to Hamas-controlled health authorities.

How important is the decision of the UN judges?

Decisions of the Court are binding. Even if he has no means to enforce enforcement, political pressure may increase. For Germany, any suspicion of shared responsibility for genocide would be a bitter defeat. The Genocide Convention came about in 1948 in the wake of the Holocaust, the murder of around six million Jews by German National Socialists during the Second World War. Since then, Germany has felt a special obligation not only to Israel, but also to international law.

What happens next after this decision?

The lawsuit will only be decided in the main proceedings. This can take years.

Are there other international courts dealing with the Gaza war?

The International Criminal Court, also based in The Hague, is investigating both Israelis and Palestinians for possible war crimes. Unlike the UN Court, this global criminal court prosecutes individual suspects for war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide and war of aggression. The UN court, on the other hand, wants to resolve conflicts between states.

Source: Stern

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