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One Year Later, the International Community Must Enforce the ICJ Advisory Opinion

Monday, 11 October 2010 15:19
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AL-HAQ PRESS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

REF: 19.2005E

9 July 2005

Al-Haq is gravely concerned by the inaction of the international community in regards to their obligations as outlined in the International Court of Justice's Advisory Opinion on the Annexation Wall. On 9 July 2004, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) issued its Advisory Opinion on the illegality of the construction of the Wall in the West Bank. The ICJ, the most authoritative legal body of the United Nations, held not only that the Wall's construction in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) is illegal, but also that Israel must stop such construction, dismantle those sections built to date, and provide reparation for the damages caused by such construction. Equally importantly, it also found that third-party states must not recognise the Wall, must not help in maintaining it, and must ensure that Israel respects its obligations under international humanitarian law; and that the UN should consider what further action is needed to bring an end to the illegal situation. On the one-year anniversary of the Advisory Opinion, Al-Haq calls upon the international community to act in accordance with its obligations under international law and ensure that Israel complies with its obligations as outlined in the Opinion.

This watershed Advisory Opinion also addressed other essential issues which are at the crux of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, such as reaffirming that Israel is an Occupying Power of the OPT, including East Jerusalem, and that many of its actions therein are in flagrant violation of its obligations under international human rights and humanitarian law. The ICJ went on to note the illegality of the construction of settlements in the OPT, and maintained that the Palestinian people have a clear right to self-determination.

Soon after the issuance of the Advisory Opinion, the UN General Assembly (GA) adopted a resolution acknowledging the Opinion. The GA demanded that Israel comply with its legal obligations as mentioned therein, and called on UN member states to ensure respect by Israel of those obligations. Despite this, the international community has failed to take any steps to hold Israel accountable, thereby enabling the continued violation of the Palestinians civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights resulting from the Walls ongoing construction in the OPT.

The international community must remain committed to the enforcement of international law and take immediate steps to ensure that Israel adheres to its obligations as outlined in the Opinion. The failure to take such steps will serve to undermine the international legal system which provides important protections for people of all nations. Al-Haq therefore proposes that third-party states consider taking a number of steps to ensure that Israel ceases its violations of international law:

  • The GA should reconvene on this issue, and establish a mechanism by which states will be required to report on how they are implementing their legal obligations as reiterated by the Advisory Opinion.
  • The Advisory Opinion should provide significant impetus for a meeting of the High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions to discuss Israels non-compliance with international humanitarian law and to develop a means of upholding their own obligations to ensure Israels respect thereof.
  • Those third-party states which undertake bilateral agreements with Israel must ensure that such agreements do not breach their obligations under international law, by such means as the use of safeguards therein to bring Israel into compliance with international law.

The occupation of Palestine will not end unless Israel comes into line with its obligations under international law. As long as the international community permits Israel to continue in its violations, there will be no just and durable solution to the conflict. The Advisory Opinion gives a mechanism to the international community to pressure Israel to stop its violations of international law in the OPT. For the international community to fail to do so poses a threat both to the future of the Palestinian nation and to the international legal order.

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