Daily archives: December 7, 2023

Stopping Genocide 233

Every single state in the world has a positive duty to intervene to prevent the Genocide in Gaza now, not after a court has reached a determination of genocide. This is made crystal clear in para 431 of the International Court of Justice judgment in Bosnia vs Serbia:

This obviously does not mean that the obligation to prevent genocide only comes into being when perpetration of genocide commences ; that would be absurd, since the whole point of the obligation is to prevent, or attempt to prevent, the occurrence of the act. In fact, a State’s obligation to prevent, and the corresponding duty to act, arise at the instant that the State learns of, or should normally have learned of, the existence of a serious risk that genocide will be committed. From that moment onwards, if the State has available to it means likely to have a deterrent effect on those suspected of preparing genocide, or reasonably suspected of harbouring specific intent (dolus specialis), it is under a duty to make such use of these means as the circumstances permit.

This case was specifically on the application of the Genocide Convention. That the ICJ has ruled there is a positive duty on states to act to prevent genocide makes it even more astonishing to me that no state has invoked the Genocide Convention over the blatant genocide being committed by Israel in Gaza. Not least is it puzzling that this action has not been undertaken by Palestine itself, which is a party to the Convention and does have the ability to invoke it.

On Monday, I attended a surreal event at the United Nations in Geneva. It was part of the celebrations of the 75th anniversary of the Genocide Convention. It had been organised before the start of the current phase of the genocide of the Palestinians, and the subject was the suppression of incitement to genocide in the media and social media. It was formally a meeting of the UN Human Rights Council, but other states were also entitled to attend and to speak.

Delegates came and went, but over the course of the day approximately 60 nation states were present in the hall. Not all spoke, but enough did to give a feeling for the diplomatic dynamics.

I think this is best summed up by recounting the tale of two striking-looking women who spoke. The first was the delegate of Palestine, with notable long black hair, who spoke movingly of the current genocide in Gaza and the terrible destruction wrought upon tens of thousands of entirely innocent people, chiefly women and children.

Palestine was followed by the delegate representing Denmark, with equally notable long hair only this time very blonde, who said the government of Denmark was taking important concrete measures to prevent the incitement of genocide, including legislation to combat anti-semitism in social media. Two nations speaking entirely past each other.

And that was how the discussion went. Arab, African and South American states stressed the urgent need to stop the current genocide; developed nations stressed the need for states to control social media and counter “disinformation” and anti-semitism. The experts invited to join the discussion very much focused on Palestine – indeed that is where I got the reference to the precise passage from the ICJ judgment above.

None of which still explains why none of the pro-Palestinian states has fulfilled their duty and reported Israel under the Genocide Convention, thus triggering a determination by the International Court of Justice. This is particularly strange as several states have referred Israel to the International Criminal Court for war crimes.

Yet I have not found a single diplomat from any nation who disagrees with me when I say that this is a waste of time as the ICC is a western tool and will do nothing. I have not found a single diplomat who disagrees with me when I say that the ICJ is much better and a reference under the Genocide Convention is a far better route.

Yet still no political leader has taken it.

Fatah is influenced by two negative factors. The first is that it has become so immersed in the running of the Palestinian Authority it feels crippled by responsibility. Israel has already cut off the flow of funds to the Palestinian Authority which go to Gaza to pay 60,000 public sector workers there. The PA is worried about the potential to cut funding to the West Bank as well.

The ICJ already has a Palestinian case before it. On 19 February there are oral hearings on an advisory opinion for the UN General Assembly on the status of the Occupied Territories. Arguments are being made that it would not be helpful to introduce another case.

It is always possible to find arguments for not rocking the status quo. There is no doubt that there will be heavy pressure from the USA on the PA not to activate the Genocide Convention – not least because of the stark fact that “Genocide Joe” Biden should, on any rational view, be himself indicted for conspiracy or at least complicity.

I do not myself think that the Fatah leadership is consciously willing the destruction by Israel of Hamas, and certainly not at the cost of so much civilian life. But old resentments – and remember Hamas killed many Fatah people – may feed in to the process whereby frankly spurious arguments against activating the Genocide Convention are given undue weight. Many other nations which support Palestine supporters are not acting because it appears Abbas does not want them to act.

But there is something much more profound than that. This feels like a moment so shocking that the entire world is stupefied, not quite knowing how to act. An enormous rift has been exposed in international affairs. Previously, the developed nations had given lip service to the values of international organisations and to the basic concepts that move the UN, such as decolonisation, human rights and conflict resolution.

Suddenly, not only is genocide occurring with a scale and rapidity that is simply stunning – in six weeks in Gaza ten times the number of children have been killed as in two years of war in Ukraine – but the western nations are roaring on a racial extermination that dehumanises its victims. The western political class are systematically silencing internal opposition, and promoting blatant White Power marches thinly disguised as against anti-semitism.

Every developing and Arab state who spoke at the UN session on Monday described Israel in terms of colonial occupation. That is a real shift to plain speaking.

The world has been jolted, suddenly. Masks have been ripped off. Almost the entire political Establishment of the West have outed themselves as enthusiastic proponents of a racial supremacism, prepared to give active assistance to a genocide of indigenous people.

There really is no way to face up to the Genocide in Gaza without facing up to the active support of Biden, von der Leyen, Sunak and most western political leaderships – including both Labour and Conservatives in the UK. We also have to face the complicity of Karim Khan and a number of other western stooges operating at senior levels within international institutions. Where the World goes from here, in the face of the raw racial hatred and enthusiasm for the killing of babies that has been revealed by those in power, is very difficult for people to come to reckon.

I know we have been here before, with the invasion of Iraq and numerous other instances of brutal abuse of power on the world stage. But this has a different feel. I am trying to understand why. Possibly because the balance of power in the world has swung considerably. Possibly because social media enables more people, particularly the young, to see the truth. I do not fully understand why; but this feels very different, momentous.

Almost all of the nations that have been utterly appalled by the actions of the US, UK and EU over Gaza, are to some extent dependent on “aid” flows from those sources. It is also worth noting, at this crucial time, the failure of China to provide any kind of leadership. I have previously praised China’s singular lack of interest in expansion or in meddling overseas, as compared to the fading and ultra-aggressive US hegemon. But China’s narrow definition of its interests is not helpful where there is an overwhelming need for China to throw its weight into the balance for the sake of humanity.

Everybody is failing the Palestinians. Even you and me. None of us are doing enough. I have struggled to get this article right, and there are perhaps six hours of work in it, in addition probably to another eighteen hours in various meetings on the subject trying to get things moving diplomatically. In those hours, 140 Palestinian children will have been killed by Israel and 300 maimed. Is there anybody reading this who really is doing enough to halt so great an evil? How do we avoid feeling trapped by frustration, helplessness and overwhelming sorrow?

I am sorry I cannot immediately find more answers. But let us all work harder, wherever we are, to do our little bit for peace.


Forgive me for pointing out that my ability to provide this coverage is entirely dependent on your kind voluntary subscriptions which keep this blog going. This post is free for anybody to reproduce or republish, including in translation. You are still very welcome to read without subscribing.

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

Subscriptions to keep this blog going are gratefully received.

Choose subscription amount from dropdown box:

Recurring Donations


Paypal address for one-off donations: [email protected]

Alternatively by bank transfer or standing order:

Account name
Account number 3 2 1 5 0 9 6 2
Sort code 6 0 – 4 0 – 0 5
IBAN GB98NWBK60400532150962
Bank address Natwest, PO Box 414, 38 Strand, London, WC2H 5JB

Bitcoin: bc1q3sdm60rshynxtvfnkhhqjn83vk3e3nyw78cjx9
Ethereum/ERC-20: 0x764a6054783e86C321Cb8208442477d24834861a

View with comments