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Splitting Hairs About ‘Disputes’—Will the ICJ Take the Way Out?

Attorny Malcolm Shaw. Credit: ICJ

Will the International Court of Justice use an issue of whether or not a “dispute” existed between South Africa and Israel to avoid making a decision on the merits of the need for provisional measures to prevent genocide?

In defending the State of Israel in the case raised against it by South Africa, attorney Malcolm Shaw argued that South Africa had violated the requirements of the Genocide Convention, whose ninth article requires the existence of a dispute between the parties that requires an outside party (the ICJ) to resolve.

Based on a timeline of diplomatic messages and responses, Shaw makes the case that South Africa and Israel did not actually have a “dispute” in process at the time of South Africa’s Dec. 29 filing of its case. If only they had met, perhaps Israel could have assuaged South Africa’s concerns, claimed the lawyer.

We report on two notable responses to this claim:

First is the case of former U.K. Ambassador Craig Murray, whose report from the ICJ’s public gallery, noted that the judges perked up during Shaw’s presentation.

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