The global community needs to revisit the Geneva Convention clauses on genocide so that the UN can act decisively against states perpetrating this act, South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Naledi Pandor has said.
Addressing the media on Wednesday, Pandor said that what confronts the world is to marshal the ability to ensure that the stipulations of the Genocide (Convention) are strictly observed.
“The UN should actually be forced, cajoled or persuaded to focus on enforcement and not only on monitoring, as it has done for so many decades,” she said.
The comments from Pandor came days after the International Court of Justice –the top UN court– last week stopped short of ordering a ceasefire in Gaza but demanded that Israel try to contain death and damage in its military offensive. South Africa, which brought the case, had asked for the court to order Israel to halt its military operations against Hamas militants.
“The genocide convention was enacted following World War II and its intention was to ensure that never again would we see the atrocities that were part of the Holocaust against Jewish people in Europe. Those who were to be the beneficiaries of the Convention are today the ones we believe are committing genocide,” Pandor said.
“What confronts the world is to marshal the ability to ensure that the stipulations of the Genocide (Convention) are strictly observed. This question is not one for South Africa. I believe South Africa has done what it can and now the global community is the one that must answer the question: ‘Do these conventions mean anything or do we now have a world in which there is open licence where you can act as you will against any vulnerable group?’,” she added.
The top UN Court court decided not to throw out genocide charges against Israel for its military offensive in Gaza, as part of a preliminary decision in the case.
The minister said this would link to the efforts of many countries in the South to bring about change at the UN.
“I believe it fits very much into the discussion of UN reform that we have been trying for so many years to have as a concrete deliberation as a set of proposed changes. We have not been able to have text-based negotiations on a proposed framework. I think now is the time for us to push for this,” she said.
Pandor said she believed that one of the things that needed to be included at the UN Security Council for debate was the need for peace enforcement.
The minister said South Africa would continue talking to countries that supported South Africa’s efforts to stop the genocide in Palestine.
“Countries like Ireland and structures within the US we need to engage with and begin to form a force that would advocate action, particularly an action toward a negotiated two-state solution. I don’t think we should leave matters as they are – we really need to be very active as South Africa,” Pandor said.
Confirming that the ICJ ruling on Israel’s actions in Gaza was “not the victory that South Africa was looking for”, although it was an “Important and decisive” one, Pandor said she had spoken to Palestinian representatives about the need to continue action across the globe.
“The major work that we need to do is to protect the people of Palestine, but most particularly that we have the eventuality of a state of Palestine, where people enjoy freedom, justice and human rights. This is the task that we must undertake.
“We must not forget that Israel is an occupying power, with a duty to protect those that it has occupied, so this genocide totally contradicts the role and obligations of an occupier,” the minister said.
Commenting on the decision by a number of countries to suspend humanitarian aid to Palestine through the UN Relief and Works Agency in Palestine (UNWRA), Pandor said South Africa should try to secure humanitarian support to assist the relief agency.
The US, UK, Canada, Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Japan and Finland suspended funding to UNWRA, which millions of Palestinians depend on, after allegations that some of the agency’s staff were involved with Hamas.
“We should be speaking to the Gulf States, we should speak to the other African countries that have the ability to contribute. We should look to our own resources; we should support the agency to provide humanitarian aid. We can’t leave things as they are and whatever we are able to provide, we should make it available,” said the minister.
“I think there should be a massive drive to say to those powerful countries that have stopped funding even though those accused workers have been suspended and investigations are underway, again you have collective punishment. We need to object to that, but we also should look at working with the world to secure funding from the south to assist this entity,” Pandor added.
Pandor’s reference to the Geneva Conventions is a series of international treaties concluded in Geneva between 1864 and 1949 to ameliorate the effects of war on soldiers and civilians.
Urgent call for global aid to Palestine
Minister of International Relations and Co-operation, Naledi Pandor has called on developing countries to try to provide humanitarian support after several wealthy countries this week suspended their funding of the agency. Pi
International relations experts have agreed with Minister Naledi Pandor that Global South countries should try to provide humanitarian support to the UN Relief and Works Agency in Palestine.
Pandor, the Minister of International Relations and Co-operation, on Wednesday in Pretoria called on developing countries to try to provide humanitarian support after several wealthy countries this week suspended their funding of the agency.
Countries like the US, UK, Canada and Germany paused funding to the aid agency, after the Israeli government made allegations that about a dozen of the agency’s staff were involved in the October Hamas attack that killed about 1 200 people in Israel.
Almost 27 000 Palestinians have been killed and 66 000 wounded in the conflict which started more than 100 days ago.
Pandor said South Africa should rally states to fund the much-needed aid.
“We should be speaking to the Gulf States, we should speak to the other African countries that have the ability to contribute. We should look to our own resources, we should support the agency to provide humanitarian aid. We can’t leave things as they are and whatever we are able to provide, we should make it available.
“I think there should be a massive drive to say to those powerful countries that have stopped funding even though those accused workers have been suspended and investigations are under way, again you have collective punishment. We need to object to that, but we also should look at working with the world to secure funding from the south to assist this entity,” Pandor said.
She also accused Israel of ignoring the decision by the International Court of Justice (ICJ), saying since the judgment by the court it had continued with attacks on Palestinians and its soldiers even attacked a hospital disguised as medical personnel.
The court ordered Israel to take all measures within its power to prevent all acts of genocide, among other things.
The court did not make an order for the suspension of Israeli military operations in Gaza as South Africa had requested.
“I believe the rulings of the court have been ignored by Israel. Hundreds of people were killed in the last three or four days,” Pandor said.
“Clearly Israel believes it has a licence to do as it wishes. The world has to reflect and we have to come to the point to say what do we do to stop these acts from occurring not only in Israel but in any party in the world.”
International relations expert Dr Chidochashe Nyere of the University of Johannesburg said it was better if aid was co-ordinated from the Global South.
“The Global North tends to fund many of the aid programmes and there is undue pressure and asymmetrical agendas that come with this funding.
“Most of the issues with global aid is that they are stalled deliberately by Western countries when their own agenda is affected.”
Nyere said the stalling of aid in Palestine was related to the loggerheads over who was being supported in the conflict between Israel and Palestine.
“It would be much better if the Global South is supplying aid to those in need in Palestine,” Nyere said.
He said South Africa’s decision to approach the ICJ was supported by many countries on the continent and beyond.
“UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres took a diplomatic stance by invoking Article 99 of the UN Charter to urge countries to intervene but South Africa took it a step further with the legal aspect of a resolution taken at the General Assembly.”
Another expert, Dr Noluthando Phungula of the University of KwaZulu-Natal, said South Africa had hoped that the ICJ would order a ceasefire and while it did not do this, it had called for provisional measures and action from Israel.
“This suggests that the ICJ notes that the situation in Gaza is catastrophic.
However, Israel is likely to ignore the ruling made by the ICJ completely and would unfortunately not be the first state to do so.
“The ICJ’s decisions are legally binding and cannot be appealed, particularly because both Pretoria and Tel Aviv are members. The main challenge that the court faces is its lack of enforcement mechanism,” Phungula said.
On the suspension of aid, she said the international arena is moving away from unipolarity towards a multipolar international system.
“A BRICS member state, an African state that is not an Arab or Muslim state, challenged Israel. This surely points to an evident shift in the global order.”
“It is a given that the US and Israel will use all efforts to defy the ICJ and use every means of pressure and threat available. As such, the West will continue to pull out their funding to the UN relief in order to frustrate the processes.”