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Apartheid as a form of genocide: Reflections on South Africa v Israel  

On 12 December 2023, Mathu Joyini, South Africa’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, told the 10th Emergency Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly, that the large-scale Israeli military operation in Gaza, following the 7 October attacks, had ‘illustrated that Israel is acting contrary to its obligations in terms of the Genocide Convention’. She added that, ‘[a]s a UN Member State and owing to South Africa’s painful past experience of a system of apartheid, this impresses on us, as Member States to take action in accordance with international law’ (video of session at 1:17:22). Less than three weeks later, South Africa submitted an Application Instituting Proceedings against the State of Israel at the International Court of Justice under the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (‘1948 Genocide Convention’) to which Israel and South Africa are parties, including a request, as a matter of extreme urgency, for provisional measures that is currently under deliberation by the Court - a decision that is expected imminently.

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Spain’s Supreme Court is at it again: UN Treaty Body decisions are binding

The Spanish Supreme Court has established that the views expressed by UN Human Rights Treaty Bodies in individual complaints are binding on the State. This is not the first time that Spain’s Supreme Court sustains this position. In fact, I wrote a piece for EJIL Talk in August 2018 that began exactly like this blog today. However, in…

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Self-Defence as an Exception to the Principle of Non-Use of Force: Debunking the Myth

Introduction Marko Milanovic recently wrote a blog for EJIL: Talk! examining whether Israel can rely on the right of self-defence to justify its military action against Hamas. Marko’s post addresses many difficult questions relating to the law of self-defence and is a must read. In this post I want to focus on one of Marko’s…

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Victims of Informal Institutions: The Status of National Personnel of the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG)

International organizations are famous for the jungle of contractual relationships with its officials and agents. Particularly within the United Nations (UN) system, critical voices are often raised for the way in which non-staff personnel are exploited to carry out the same activities and assume similar responsibilities of staff personnel. The unfair treatment of certain categories of workers…

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The Crime of Apartheid beyond Southern Africa: A Call to Revive the Apartheid Convention’s “Group of Three”

The International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid (the “Apartheid Convention”) is a much understudied and overlooked human rights treaty. This is surprising given how often apartheid is mentioned in public discourse. The Apartheid Convention was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 30 November 1973, and entered into force on…

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