ZAM Reporter

Editorial February 2024 | Reclaiming the respect for international law

South Africa has, again, approached the International Court of Justice and instructed Israel not to attack Rafah and its 1,5 million Palestinian inhabitants.

The significance of South Africa's case before the International Court of Justice extends even beyond the court's clear and urgent judgment to moderate the acts of war and come to the aid of Gaza's residents with medication and food supplies. With this legal intervention, South Africa reclaimed the authority of international law, of institutions once created to prevent a repeat of the horrific destructiveness that sprang from Western 'civilisation'.

South Africa's intervention was met with disbelief, scepticism, indeed ridicule, in a significant part of that same Western world. South Africa? Who are they? The country’s legal team was labelled 'inferior' (check out the brilliant experts that were part of the team in this newsletter). Did South Africa, which once allowed the criminal court-convicted Sudanese dictator Al Bashir to escape arrest, have any right to speak? 

But influenced by a carefully reasoned and persuasive plea, drafted in part with the help of legal minds who had successfully sued the South African government for its negligence on Al Bashir, South Africa won respect. And won a court judgment that left nothing to be desired in terms of clarity. 

We can only wish for, and work towards, a new path being taken with this case. A road to a future without a Security Council crippled by vetoes from the major powers. A future of international law for all that is not guided by the double standards of cynical power politics.

ZAM Team