Nicaragua joins South Africa at the ICJ in support of Palestine

The way that different countries have responded to the ongoing genocide in Gaza says everything about which interests their governments really represent.

Proletarian writers

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The anti-imperialist solidarity between the revolutionaries and national-liberation movements of Nicaragua and Palestine is not new, but it is testament to the principled leadership of the Sandinistas that Nicaragua is willing to put itself forward against zionism on the world stage, knowing full well that this will bring the opprobrium of international finance capital down on its head.

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While Yemen has been the first state actor to deliver full practical solidarity with the Palestinian struggle, and South Africa was the first to have recourse to international law, the government of Nicaragua has been the first to file a formal application with the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to join South Africa’s genocide case against Israel.

In making its application, Nicaragua also asked the ICJ to declare that Israel “must perform the obligations of reparation in the interest of Palestinian victims, including but not limited to allowing the safe and dignified return of forcibly displaced and/or abducted Palestinians to their homes, respect for their full human rights and protection against further discrimination, persecution and other related acts, and provide for the reconstruction of what it has destroyed in Gaza”.

Representatives of the Nicaraguan government joining an international conference on Palestine in Tehran in February stated: “The Palestinian people are victims of unimaginable atrocities that move, dismay and outrage the people of this planet. The atrocities committed by Israel against the Palestinian people in Gaza and the West Bank, against innocent children and defenceless women are condemnable, the government and people of Nicaragua denounce and strongly condemn them.

“The government of Israel is becoming a state incompatible with the community of states that make up the United Nations. Their supremacist criminality is unparalleled in the history of humanity. The international community rejects and condemns this atrocious and despicable behaviour.”

The case against Germany

Not resting there, the central American state has also filed charges against Germany for continuing to provide aid to Israel after the ICJ had ruled that special measures were needed to ensure the prevention of genocide in Gaza.

In its application, Nicaragua has charged Germany not only with continuing to give financial and military aid to Israel but also with defunding the UN Palestinian refugee agency (Unrwa), in violation of both the 1948 genocide convention and the 1949 Geneva conventions on the laws of war in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Reflecting once again the urgency of the situation in Gaza, where famine is now endemic amongst the population and Israel is threatening to launch an invasion of the southernmost Gaza town of Rafah (which has become a vast tent city housing the 1.5 million Palestinians who have been displaced from the rest of the strip), the ICJ has scheduled a hearing for the case against Germany on 8 and 9 April.

Most of the imperialist camp will be watching this development nervously. If ever a day comes when ICJ rulings can be backed up by actions, governments and officials from across the Natosphere could find themselves in trouble.

Not only are they all backing Israel with weapons and other aid, but most of them have also joined the USA in pulling funding from Unrwa – which is responsible for delivering nutritional, educational and health services to Palestinian refugees across the occupied territories and in refugee camps across the region (Lebanon, Jordan and Syria). Other governments liable to find themselves in the dock are those of Britain, Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Finland and Australia. Canada and Sweden had initially joined this US-instigated group of Unrwa ‘de-funders’, but reversed their decision earlier this month.

Germany is one of the largest arms exporters to Israel, after the United States, and its sales to the zionist occupation forces ballooned massively in the last quarter of 2023, after 7 October.

Although the true extent of military support from Britain is not known, publicy available figures put it in third place, traditionally supplying around 15 percent of the components used in F-35 bombers. The UK is also home to Israeli arms companies such as Elbit, which has been consistently targeted by Palestine Action for its role in the Palestinian genocide.

Meanwhile, under pressure from their domestic populations, and with one eye to the persistence of ICJ prosecutions, Canada, Spain and Belgium have all halted arms exports to Israel, while the Netherlands is in the process of being forced by a legal order from its domestic courts to follow suit.

Nicaragua’s history with the ICJ

Meanwhile, unknown to most workers in the west today is the fact that Nicaragua has been pursuing its own legal case against the United States since 1986.

When the case was heard, the ICJ found in Nicaragua’s favour and decided that the USA had indeed violated international law by supporting the armed rebellion of the ‘Contras’ against the Sandinista government and by mining Nicaragua’s harbours. Not only was a verdict pronounced against the United States, but reparations were awarded to Nicaragua.

Nicaragua then brought its case to the UN security council for enforcement, where the USA simply vetoed the resolution, thus demonstrating how much the imperialists really respect the international order they pretend to uphold.

When Nicaragua turned to the general assembly, the resolution in favour of the Latin-American nation was passed by a majority of 94-3. Which had zero effect on the USA’s refusal to admit guilt or pay what it owes.

In 2023, President Daniel Ortega sent a letter to UN secretary general António Guterres demanding that Washington be forced to pay up. “There exists a historical debt with the Nicaraguan people that 37 years later has not been settled by the United States … It is an obligation clearly established in a final judgment of the highest international judicial authority, the International Court of Justice.”

This earlier case highlights what the case against Gaza has brought into the centre of a global spotlight: the toothless charade of the supposed ‘international UN system’ and the impotence of most ‘member states’ to affect any real outcomes. At the UN, all are allowed to speak (on the floor of the general assembly) but only one nation has any meaningful executive power (via its veto at the UN, its physical control over.

Any branch of UN activity that acts with independence is liable to find its funding arbitrarily pulled – as was cruelly demonstrated by the barbaric cutting of funds to Unrwa just when its services are most desperately needed.

It has been said that the United Nations was long ago transformed into the colonial office of US imperialism.

The UN’s inability to stop the US-backed genocide in Gaza, or even to bring effective relief to the Palestinian people, despite the overwhelming desire of the governments and peoples of the world, are providing us with ample proof for this assertion.