ICJ Delivers Verdict on Nicaragua v. Germany Case

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has delivered its ruling on Nicaragua’s request for provisional measures to be instated against Germany concerning their policy toward Israel in the present war.

Accusations of Complicity in Genocide

Early in March, Nicaragua brought a case against Germany in the ICJ, accusing them of assisting Israel in genocide due to their arms exports to Israel, political support offered, as well as Germany’s cut of funding to the UNRWA.

Germany condemned the case, denying both that Israel was committing genocide, as well as their complicity in Israel’s actions.

The arguments of both nations were heard earlier in April. Nicaragua claimed that Germany was well aware of the abuses being perpetrated by Israel in Gaza, and since they decided nonetheless to continue supplying military aid to Israel, they were in violation of the genocide convention.

In turn, Germany argued that Nicaragua’s case was “rushed,” and “on the basis of the flimsiest evidence.” Germany further claimed that they had only delivered four orders of weapons since the war began on October 7th, three of which were for training purposes and were not suitable for combat.

While Germany is one of Israel’s top foreign providers of military equipment, they have stated that this aid is non-lethal, generally protective and defensive equipment, not weapons of war.

According to the court, two of the four licenses Germany approved since October 7th were for training ammunition, one was for testing purposes, and the fourth was “3,000 portable anti-tank weapons.”

The German defence further added that, although they had cut funding to the UNRWA (the primary humanitarian aid provider in Gaza), that Germany “continues to provide humanitarian support (in Gaza) every single day.”

Germany had cut funding to the UNRWA after Israel publicly accused 12 of their members of being involved in Hamas’ October 7th attacks, and hundreds more of being members of Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and other militant groups. Although Israel did not provide evidence for their claims, approximately 18 different nations (including the EU) cut funding to the UNRWA.

A photo of a damaged UNRWA building within Gaza (Photo from AFP/Getty Images).

Israel later expanded their allegations to add seven more employees to their list of people involved in the attacks.

Several of these cases have been suspended due to a lack of evidence from Israel. Additionally, one case was closed, also due to a lack of evidence from Israel. Two of the accused have also died since the war began, although the UNRWA did not mention how they died.

While the UNRWA suspended the accused employees, Israel has largely refused to cooperate with the UNRWA in their investigation. The remainder of the cases that have not been closed or suspended are still under investigation.

Since the allegations were made, a number of different nations have reinstated funding to the UNRWA. Their two largest donors, the US and Germany, have not.

Provisional Measures

Nicaragua sought several different provisional measures against Germany in relation to the case. Said provisional measures are listed below:

  1. Germany shall immediately suspend its aid to Israel, in particular its military assistance including military equipment, in so far as this aid may be used in the violation of the Genocide Convention, international humanitarian law or other peremptory norms of general international law such as the Palestinian People’s right to self-determination and to not be subject to a regime of apartheid;
  2. Germany must immediately make every effort to ensure that weapons already delivered to Israel are not used to commit genocide, contribute to acts of genocide or are used in such a way as to violate international humanitarian law;
  3. Germany must immediately do everything possible to comply with its obligations under humanitarian law;
  4. Germany must reverse its decision to suspend the funding of UNRWA as part of the compliance of its obligations to prevent genocide and acts of genocide and the violation of the humanitarian rights of the Palestinian People which also includes the obligation to do everything possible to ensure that humanitarian aid reaches the Palestinian people, more particularly in Gaza;
  5. Germany must cooperate to bring to an end the serious breaches of peremptory norms of international law by ceasing its support, including its supply of military equipment to Israel that may be used to commit serious crimes of international law and that it continue the support of the UNRWA on which this Organizations has counted and based its activities.

The most important of these measures are the halt of German military aid to Israel, and the resumption of aid to the UNRWA.

The ICJ ruled against instating these provisional measures, on all counts.

“Based on the factual information and legal arguments presented by the parties, the court concludes that, as present, the circumstances are not such as to require the exercise of its power … to indicate provisional measures” -Nawaf Salam, President of the ICJ

Germany welcomed the ruling by the ICJ, which was almost unanimous, with the vote on the provisional measures being 15-1.

Although the court ruled in Germany’s favour regarding provisional measures, they notably did not throw out the case entirely, as was Germany’s request. The court’s present ruling was just to determine the necessity of instating provisional measures against Germany.

The entire case, of determining Germany’s complicity in allegedly genocidal acts, could take several more months, or even years.

Nicaragua’s case is, in part, built upon an earlier case filed by South Africa against Israel, which accuses them of violating the genocide convention through their conduct of the war in Gaza. In this case, the court declared the “plausibility” of genocide. This plausibility is a large part of what Nicaragua built its case against Germany upon.

Sébastien Gray
Sébastien Gray
Sébastien Gray is a published journalist and historicist with over 5 years experience in writing. His primary focus is on East and West African affairs.


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