GUEST BLOG: Patrick O’Dea – Everybody knows the trial is over, everybody knows that the good guys lost.

Officially the judges of the ICJ are supposed to be impartial and independent, delivering their judgement solely on the evidence and the merits of the case before them, uninfluenced by partisan interests, free of political pressure.
In practice the judges of the ICJ vote along political lines, in line with the political stance of their country of origin, and in line with their country’s international alliances and allies.
So who are the judges, and how are they likely to vote on South Africa’s application to the World Court for an interim order for a ceasefire in Gaza?
I have compiled a list of the current Judges on the bench of the World Court, and how, in my opinion they are likely to vote. I have based my assessment on two things – on the fact that ICJ judges almost always vote in line with their countries official (and unofficial) position on international matters, and on how their country of origin voted on the motion for a humanitarian ceasefire in the UN General Assembly. I have placed the countries that abstained in voting for a ceasefire in the against column, for the reason that an abstention on voting for a humanitarian ceasefire dishonestly hid that country’s position.
Based on these two factors; The following list is my prediction of how the ICJ judges are likely to vote on South Africa’s application to the International Court of Justice, to issue an interim measure ordering Israel to halt all combat operations in Gaza to prevent a genocide.
Judge Joan E. Donoghue
United States of America
Likely vote: ‘Against’
Vice-President Kirill Gevorgian
Russian Federation
Likely vote: ‘For’
Judge Peter Tomka
Likely vote: ‘Against’
Judge Ronny Abraham
Likely vote: ‘For’
Judge Mohamed Bennnouna
Likely vote: ‘For’
Judge Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf
Likely vote: ‘For’
Judge Xue Hanqin
Likely vote: ‘For’
Judge Julia Sebutinde
Likely vote: ‘For’
Judge Dalveer Bhandari
Likely vote: ‘Against’
Judge Patrick Lipton Robinson
Likely vote: ‘Against’
Judge Nawaf Salam
Likely vote: ‘For’
Judge Iwasawa Yuji
Likely vote: ‘Against’
Judge Georg Nolte
Likely vote: ‘Against’
Judge Hilary Charlesworth
Likely vote: ‘Against’
Judge Leonardo Nemer Caldeira Brant
Likely vote: ‘For’
Under ICJ rules, a country that is party to a case at the World Court, and does not have a judge of its nationality on the bench can nominate an ad hoc judge, which is the case for both Israel and South Africa.
The Judge ad hoc for Israel – Judge Aharon Barak: ‘Against’
The Judge ad hoc for South Africa – Judge Dikgang Moseneke: ‘For’
As South Africa’s judge and Israel’s judge will each cancel out each other’s vote, the decision will be decided by the original 15 judges.
7 Judges of the 15, voting ‘Against’ the resolution and 8 judges voting ‘For’ the resolution. South Africa’s application ordering an immediate ceasefire will be issued by the court.
The US and Israel know they only need to sway only one, possibly two country’s judges to vote the way they want, to prevent the court making an order for a ceasefire.
It has been revealed that Israel has been mounting an international campaign through their embassies to pressure countries to condemn South Africa’s case at the World Court. The US will be doing the same thing, but less openly.
Which countries will change their voting record?
The French judge wil be one to look for.
France is a member of NATO and the Western Alliance. France has colonial interests in the Pacific that they retain with the support of the Western Alliance and the US. France will not want to lose that support.
The world is being divided into two opposing camps. A World Court judgement that favours Israel will harden the differences, and drive more and more countries into one camp, or the other.
The World Court will justify their refusal to deliver an interim ruling against Israel by telling the Palestinians and South Africans that you will be able to have your day in court at the full hearing. The full hearing, which could be stalled for years, will never happen. Rising imperialist tensions and global division will see the whole world engulfed in war by then.
Future historians will look back and identify this moment as when it began.



Patrick O’Dea is a staunch Unionist and human rights activist


  1. The amazing thing is.
    Germany lining up with Israel and saying no Genocide or ethnic cleansing is occurring.
    We all know that is total bull crap.

    • especially as -if the world had been fair – it would have been German land given over for a Jewish homeland, and Palestinians -Jewish, Christian and Muslim – could have carried on living happily together peacefully in Palestine.

  2. I am not so sanguine about the prospects of an ICJ ruling in favour of South Africa’s claim. The Russian Federation does not want to burn its bridges with Israel. China will be keen to maintain its neutral stance in relation to regional conflicts. The BRICS countries in general do not have the same tight alliances as the Western states do with the Five Eyes and NATO and they will break ranks according to how they perceive their individual national interests. Then it comes down to the individual judges. Contrary to popular belief and principles of justice, judges are easily swayed by outside considerations such as the need to maintain order in society or in the world. The distinction between “law” and “order” is an important one, and although they will hardly ever admit it judges tend to place “order” ahead of “law” for the simple reason that the law only exists to maintain order.
    I believe that the left is making a mistake by attaching too much importance to the ICJ case, and in thinking that by establishing a case of genocide through the court or through international public opinion they can change the situation on the ground. There can be no judicial or political solution to this conflict. There can only be a military solution. Either the NATO, Five Eyes and Israeli forces will destroy the Palestinians, Yemeni, Lebanese, Iranian and other centres of resistance or the European powers themselves will suffer a serious defeat. The only way that New Zealanders can play a positive role in this conflict is by overthrowing the colonialist regime which is hand-in-glove with the State of Israel.

    • With human beings perception is everything.

      Sometimes giving an official acknowledgement of something changes perceptions.

      The Israelis know this, which is why instead of thumbing their nose at world opinion, (as they usually do), Israel has sent a team of lawyers to the Hague to apply to have the case thrown out.

      The balance of forces are changing. The rise of the BRICS is proof enough of that.
      The rise of Brics are not the only alternative, to Western hegemony and imperialism, and despite what the Tankies claim, not even a good alternative. India for instance the “I” in BRICS is ruled by the far right Hindu nationalist BJP, who have gained power by inciting Islamophobia and have sided with the Zionists. Anti-Palestinian rhetoric and propaganda by the BJP is as extreme as anything in Israel. Russia and China have their own imperialist ambitions and interests which they are aggressively pursuing. A better alternative to Western imperialism are the popular mass movements against war that are a challenge to all imperialists.
      These mass movements would be empowered by a ICJ decision that went against Israel.

      On their country’s voting record at the UN, the ICJ judges will vote, (by a narrow margin), to grant South Africa’s application for an interim injunction ordering a humanitarian ceasefire.

      All politics is pressure.

      Israel and the US are putting diplomatic pressure on the judges and their governments to not support an interim injunction ordering a ceasefire.
      My guess is that one or two judges will buckle to this pressure and either abstain, or vote against South Africa’s application, enough to swing the court in Israel’s favour.

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