South Africa Now Wants To Take the US and UK To The Hague
Brace yourselves; this could get messy.
South Africa’s case against Israel in The Hague is utterly historic, no matter which way it goes. But the stakes are about to be turned up to 11. Multiple news sources are reporting that the South African is gearing up to take the US and UK to The Hague for their complicity in Israel’s potential genocide in Gaza. This puts Joe Biden, Rishi Sunak, and other leading figures from the US and the UK at risk of serious charges. But what laws have they broken? What charges could be levied against them? And why is South Africa acting as the global snitch?
Let’s start with the law. Genocide was made a crime in international law by the 1948 Genocide Convention. Almost every country on Earth has signed and ratified this convention, including Israel, the US and the UK. Article iii of the convention not only makes genocide a chargeable offence but also conspiracy to commit genocide, incitement to commit genocide, attempt to commit genocide, and complicity in a genocide. The last part is the crucial part for this upcoming second case, as there is plenty of evidence that the US and UK have not only been complicit in Israel’s potential genocide but have been the sole enablers of it.
Let’s start with the US. As I have already covered, the US gives a vast amount of military aid to Israel each year. At last counting, this amounted to $3.3 billion a year, or 15% of Israel’s annual military expenditure. But it doesn’t just stop there; the US is the primary arms dealer of Israel. Over 92% of Israel’s weapons are supplied by the US. This includes white phosphorus, whose use is illegal under international law, and Israel has used multiple times against Gaza over the years, including since Oct 7th. In other words, the weapons Israel is using to commit a (potential) genocide came from the US. Even in the light of recent rampant breaches of humanitarian and international law, this supply has not wavered. But The US’s support of Israel goes past weapons and military aid. The US has given Israel diplomatic immunity on the international stage, vetoing and being the only country to vote against a UN Security Council vote to enforce a humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza to get aid into the area. It has even resisted, condemned and ridiculed South Africa’s case against Israel, claiming it to be “baseless”, which is far from the objective reality of the case.
The UK has been the US’s subservient pet for decades now, sapping international influence by copying its foreign policy or even jumping headfirst into wars the US has started. The same is true when it comes to the UK’s stance on Israel.
Like the US, the UK provides Israel with a plethora of weapons. The UK licences around $146 million in arms, and this flow continues to this day despite historical and recent breaches of humanitarian and international law. The UK was the only country to abstain from that UN Security Council vote. The UK has stood against Israel facing the ICJ and other international courts multiple times in the past and has continued this stance to this day, claiming the case is “unhelpful”.
So, there is a sound argument that the US and its faithful sidekick, the UK, are complicit in Israel’s potential genocide. They have given it diplomatic immunity, military aid and arms needed to enact devastation upon Gaza, and both countries have failed to use their position of power over Israel to ensure it acted within international law. This is literally the definition of complicity. This should worry Biden and Sunak, as well as key figures such as Cameron and Blinken, as the ICJ can dish out sentences of up to 30 years in prison or even life sentences if they are found guilty of complicity in a genocide. But, such a sentence would require South Africa’s current case to reach a conclusion of genocide, which isn’t guaranteed and will take years, and then this second case could itself take years again to reach a conclusion. So, we will have to be patient to see how this plays out.
So, why is South Africa doing this? Is it all about morals, or is it an opportunistic power grab? Well, potentially both. South Africa has supported the Palestinian struggle for self-determination since the end of Apartheid, so this is consistent with its past stance towards Israel. But South Africa has also struggled with the US’s questionable foreign influence. The US supported the Apartheid government as it was anti-communist and, like all other countries of the global south, has had to move with the US’s trade and overreaching foreign influence (such as from the World Bank) to its own detriment. This is why South Africa joined the China & Russia-led BRICS alliance to enable it to grow independently of US influence. Taking the US and UK to the ICJ like this can help level this historically skewed playing field, ensuring the West isn’t twisting international law for its benefit.
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