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Is universal jurisdiction the way forward to end Israel’s impunity?
Francisco Rey Marcos


In a similar vain, a number of Latin American countries such as Bolivia and Venezuela have announced that they were instigating proceedings with the ICC against Israel for crimes against humanity in accordance with article 14 of the Rome Statute which states the following: “A State Party may refer to the Prosecutor a situation in which one or more crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court appear to have been committed requesting the Prosecutor to investigate the situation for the purpose of determining whether one or more specific persons should be charged with the commission of such crimes.” It is not likely that this initiative will be successful. It is more political than legal and is primarily a way of denouncing what has taken place.

Another option linked to the ICC would be to put pressure on members of the Security Council to ask the Procurator to launch an investigation. At best, this would be an opportunity for the new US administration to show how different its approach to Israel is going to be and would prompt interesting debates within the Council. However, this too would remain more political than legal.

Finally, the Security Council could create an ad hoc tribunal as was created for Rwanda and ex-Yugoslavia, but this is very unlikely as the work carried out by the ICC aims precisely to avoid the creation of ad hoc tribunals.
Other approaches are possible via the United Nations. The first of these would be an official condemnation by the Human Rights Council, which does not have any legal jurisdiction but this would add weight to other initiatives (incidentally, this would also help to justify the creation of a body which replaced the Commission on Human Rights, but which, so far, has done very little). For example, such a condemnation would increase the possibility of action on the part of the International Court of Justice which, in a famous advisory opinion, condemned the illegality of the wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.