Geneva to host Global Tribunal on Palestine

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Publish Date : 06/12/2024 10:43
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Geneva to host Global Tribunal on Palestine
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The organisers say that the aim of the tribunal is not only to document the crimes of the occupation state of Israel, and present them before the world in order to prosecute their perpetrators, but also to contribute to efforts being made to prevent the recurrence of such crimes.

The Global Tribunal on Palestine will start in Geneva on Thursday evening, its organisers have confirmed. The civil society initiative is being organised jointly by five Geneva-based human rights NGOs: the Scandinavian Institute for Human Rights FHM-Geneva; the International Union of Jurists – Geneva; One Justice; the Geneva Centre for Democracy and Human Rights; and the International Institute for Peace, Justice and Human Rights. The initiative is endorsed by the Global Legal Alliance for Palestine. The organisers say that the aim of the tribunal is not only to document the crimes of the occupation state of Israel, and present them before the world in order to prosecute their perpetrators, but also to contribute to efforts being made to prevent the recurrence of such crimes. The means to do this will be through an impartial international judiciary that adheres to universal human rights principles and international standards of justice and integrity.

The director of the Geneva Centre for Democracy and Human Rights, Anouar El-Gharbi, spoke to MEMO and detailed the context and goals that the tribunal seeks to achieve.


What is the importance of the Global Tribunal on Palestine, and what is its general context?

Anouar El-Gharbi: Weeks after Israel began its war against the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and continued its daily violations in the occupied West Bank, it was clear that the Israeli government, with a lot of support from Western governments, was moving toward committing massacres, displacing the population in Gaza, and annihilating all aspects of life. Many organisations, associations and coalitions got together to monitor the violations, and to collect testimonies and powers of attorney to present them to the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, who was prevented from entering the crime scene in Gaza. This was a dangerous sign of the wish of the Israeli government and those who support it to be able to act with complete impunity in committing crimes and violations in the occupied Palestinian territories. On the occasion of International Human Rights Day, 10 December, 2023, dozens of academics, judges, lawyers, thinkers, researchers and well-known international figures in the field of human rights gathered in Geneva to study ways to stop the revenge attack on the Gaza Strip since 7 October last year. Nearly fifty people from 17 countries participated in the forum under the heading “The International Criminal Court: to be or not to be”. Most of the participants have been following the Palestinian cause for many years, and they are witnesses to Western pressures to paralyse cases related to Palestinian rights and grave Israeli violations. It was from this forum that the “Global Legal Alliance for Palestine” was born, which includes dozens of associations, lawyers and international civil society organisations in around 45 countries. The coalition held the second forum on 4 March to consider the overall legal mechanisms and support the legal steps undertaken before the International Criminal Court, the International Court of Justice, and several national courts according to jurisdiction. An agreement was signed on a comprehensive plan of action, including the establishment of a permanent international tribunal for the rights of Palestinians in order to open all files related to the crimes of the Israeli occupation; to analyse, monitor and document all crimes, including the ongoing crime of genocide, which has been documented thoroughly on social media; and to study the Israeli apartheid system in law and daily practice that targets the Palestinians.


What are the goals and messages to the occupation state expected to come out of this popular tribunal, given that influential international bodies have failed to stop the massacres as the offensive enters its ninth month?

Anouar El-Gharbi: The tribunal will be held in Geneva over three days, 6-8 June. It seeks to achieve a number of goals by documenting various crimes and listening to witnesses, victims and representatives of the various sectors targeted by the Israeli occupation army. The hearing sessions will be chaired by legal experts, including judges. They will listen to testimonies from various sectors and be presented with documented reports prepared specifically for the tribunal.

The sessions will address a number of topics:

1.The genocide in Gaza, and the direct and indirect consequences on vulnerable groups: women, children and people with special needs, including the wounded and disabled.

2.The occupation forces’ serious violations of mental and physical integrity, kidnapping and mass detentions.

3.The Gaza Genocide: media, academics and medical personnel as groups protected by international humanitarian law.

4.Are international courts doing their part in confronting genocide? The International Court of Justice and International Criminal Court.

5.What is the evaluation of the performance of UN agencies and bodies, and what is the Israeli occupation state’s policy towards them?

A permanent action plan will be agreed upon through the following mechanisms:

- Organising and electing the permanent committee for the next sessions of the tribunal.

- Establishing a working group to monitor international, regional and national courts and evaluate their performance and political and anti-justice pressures.

- Forming a research working group to provide an interdisciplinary approach to combating the genocidal and apartheid regime in the Palestinian context.

- Establishing a coordination team of lawyers from different countries to defend victims and seek justice.

About 150 people have confirmed their participation in the sessions, either in person or remotely. They represent about 40 nationalities from five continents, and all of them represent sectors related to justice and international law. An elite group of judges, lawyers, intellectuals and jurists will attend the sessions in Geneva in order to work on establishing the Global Tribunal on Palestine. They include the former UN Special Rapporteur for Palestine, Professor Richard Falk; the former UN Deputy Secretary-General, Dr Rima Khalaf; Italian lawyer Michela Aricale, representing a coalition of lawyers from Italy; Norwegian lawyer Bent Endresen; lawyer Kjell Brygfjeld; journalist Jacques Marie Bourget from Paris; lawyer Pablo Araya Zacarias from Chile; and the former chief judge in Gaza, Judge Ashraf Nasrallah. More than 20 professors of international criminal law, doctors, journalists and jurists who worked in Gaza will also take part. They know what has happened to their colleagues in terms of killings, arrests and torture. In total, we will have almost 80 international figures who will remind us about the ongoing Nakba and work that has taken place to end the suffering of the Palestinian people through the mechanism of international law. The Global Tribunal is one of the tools to achieve justice for the Palestinians. Significantly, the tribunal sessions will be held in a hall that holds a great deal of symbolic importance. It was chosen by the late, great freedom fighter and former President of South Africa Nelson Mandela to deliver a lecture in Geneva. It is thus linked directly to the struggle against apartheid. Israel, of course, has been adjudged by major human rights organisations to have passed the threshold to qualify as an apartheid state.

Dozens of experts and specialists from a university in Palestine and another in Beirut will also participate.


What can this international tribunal on Palestine do on a practical level?

Anouar El-Gharbi: The genocide against the Palestinians marks a turning point in world history, and it is the duty of all supporters of justice and human rights to rise to the occasion and challenge it.

Violations of international law and justice have exceeded all limits, and some politicians in the West have not hesitated to attack international courts and their staff in order to subjugate and intimidate the judges. Hence, it has become a matter of urgency that a permanent committee be formed with this tribunal to monitor political interference and pressures exerted to paralyse the work of international judiciaries in everything related to Palestinian rights. At the same time, the committee will be charged with developing a societal human rights approach to the concept of serious crimes, especially the crime of genocide, and contributing to the enrichment and strength of the discourse of civil society and student movements around the world, given that the Palestinian issue has become the benchmark between justice and brutality.

The reports and studies prepared during the past three months reveal the extent of the atrocities and crimes committed, and documenting them will allow for more accurate follow-up. Hearing personal testimonies in support of justice and the rule of law, and the subsequent discussions and outcomes, will show the best ways to prosecute those criminals who have until today, been considered to be above justice and accountability.

This tribunal will not merely be an occasion to define and present evidence of the crimes of genocide and apartheid. Rather, it is the beginning of a creative approach and a means of struggle and research to make justice in Palestine the principal benchmark for the decline or progress of international justice. Until today, the Israeli and US governments have been at the forefront of demolishing any progress at the level of a globalised judiciary. We must remember that criminal law was amended in Belgium, Norway, the UK and many other countries to hinder or stop altogether the prosecution of Israeli war criminals.

More than fifty professors of international criminal law, lawyers and judges have mobilised with us in this project, as well as researchers, philosophers, historians and sociologists, in order to break out of the logic of “mainstream justice” and achieve justice for all.

- The tribunal will organise and elect the following:

- The Standing Committee for the next sessions of the tribunal.

- The Working Group concerned with monitoring the two tribunals.

- The Working Group on the Interdisciplinary Approach to Genocide and Apartheid in the Palestinian Case.

- The Coordination Group to defend victims and justice.




“ Geneva to host Global Tribunal on Palestine ”