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Gaza, Forced Displacement, and Genocide

International courts and commissions of enquiry have been reluctant to find that forced displacement constitutes genocide. Forced displacement, in its various forms, is a war crime (Rome Statute, Article 8(2)(a)(vii)) and a crime against humanity (Rome Statute, Article 7 (1)(d)), but not genocide. Indeed, the Genocide Convention omits forced transfer as a genocidal act. Still, in Croatia v. Serbia (2015), while the International Court of Justice (ICJ) found that there was no evidence to conclude that the forced displacement of Croatians was carried out with genocidal intent (Croatia v. Serbia, Judgment, para. 428), and the forced displacement was a consequence of other actions capable of being viewed as acts of genocide (para. 376), it nevertheless affirmed that it could, when taking place in circumstances calculated to bring about the physical destruction of the group, also constitute genocide (para. 163). With the mass forced displacement, starvation, and the inability to flee to safety in Gaza, this article considers the standards set by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the ICJ to…

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On UNRWA, Palestine Refugees, and International Law

In the past month, some of the major donors to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) announced they were suspending funding to the agency over allegations that some of its employees were involved in the 7 October attacks (here, here, and…

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Damaged Beyond Repair? International Law after Gaza

“Never has [an international law professor] sensed such profound skepticism about the legitimacy and usefulness of the discipline he teaches. Hasn’t the appalling conflict unfolding before our eyes demonstrated with tremendous eloquence the vanity, or at least the extreme fragility, of a so-called legal order in relations between states, at the very moment when its development was…

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Legal Standard for Genocide Intent: An Uphill Climb for Israel in Gaza Suit

A critical issue in South Africa’s case against Israel for genocide in Gaza is the required intent to destroy a group, or at least a portion of a group. The International Court of Justice has said already that it is plausible that Israel harbored such intent. (Order, 1/26/24) If the case proceeds to the merits, the Court will…

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Evaluating Security Assistance to Israel Following ICJ Provisional Measures Order

The provisional measures order recently published by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the ongoing dispute between South Africa and Israel has widely been characterized as a warning to States that they risk violating the order and eventually being held complicit in genocide for continuing to provide security assistance to Israel.

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