Colombia requests to intervene in South Africa ICJ genocide case against Israel

Colombia filed a declaration of intervention Friday in South Africa’s genocide case against Israel in the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

Colombia argued that the court should allow it to join the case because it has signed and ratified the Genocide Convention and thus has a right to intervene in the case. It argued that signatories of the convention “should do everything in their power to contribute to ensure the prevention, suppression and punishment of genocide.” Additionally, Colombia asserted that it is entitled to join the case under Article 63 of the Statute of the ICJ. This provision gives states a right to intervene in cases whenever the construction of a multilateral convention is in question.

Colombia is not the first state to intervene in this case. Earlier this year, Nicaragua filed an application to intervene in the case as well.

In December 2023, South Africa initiated proceedings against Israel in the ICJ. South Africa alleged that Israel’s actions during its military operations in Gaza violate the Genocide Convention. Notably, South Africa claimed that Israel has engaged in, is engaging in and risks further engaging in genocidal acts against the Palestinian people in Gaza. The ICJ eventually ordered Israel to “take all measures within its power” to prevent breaches of the Genocide Convention in the Gaza Strip. Last month, the ICJ issued an order imposing additional emergency provisional measures Israel must follow in South Africa’s genocide case against the country.

Gaza has been decimated in the nearly six months of war following October 7. Israeli strikes have hit locations including medical facilities and refugee camps, and human rights groups have accused Israel of war crimes. This has had devastating impacts on civilians. Nearly 2 million people, 85 percent of the territory’s population, have been displaced by the violence, and more than 32,000 people have been killed—mostly civilians. Survivors face a collapsed medical system and imminent famine. On Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced the death of seven humanitarian aid workers in Gaza from Israeli strikes.