The International Association of Democratic Lawyers filed an amicus curiae brief with the International Criminal Court on 16 March 2020, urging the court to recognize its jurisdiction over the occupied Palestinian territories of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip. The IADL brief submitted to the Pre-Trial Chamber was limited to this topic as per the direction of the Court. Submitted by Bureau Member Richard Harvey, it emphasizes:
“The ICC’s normative power and legal authority will be strengthened by confirming its jurisdiction over the State of Palestine, including the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza, and opening an investigation into the Palestinian situation. Thereby the equal rights of all peoples to justice for international crimes will receive much-needed affirmation.
The brief delineates IADL’s long-standing advocacy against war crimes and crimes against humanity, as well as against attempts to undermine the ICC itself. As noted in the brief, “IADL was founded in 1946 with the motto “Law in the Service of Peace”. Its purposes include, inter alia: achieving the aims of the UN Charter; restoring, defending and developing democratic rights and liberties; promoting the principles of the International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights and Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and, in the context of Palestine in particular, the rights of all peoples to self-determination and freedom from colonialism and foreign occupation.”
IADL previously organized a petition to the Office of the Trial Prosecutor of the ICC, urging the prosecution “to investigate and refer for prosecution by the International Criminal Court those gross violations of International Human Rights Law and serious violations of International Humanitarian Law committed by individuals acting or purporting to act on behalf of the State of Israel, which have occurred and continue to occur within the jurisdiction of the Court.”
The brief specifically warned against the danger of any response that may undermine the ICC’s jurisdiction in Palestine. Such a response would drastically undermine international humanitarian law and “send a message to all the world that none of the fine principles and purposes enumerated in the Preamble to the Rome Statute apply to Palestinians. All peoples, except Palestinians, may be ‘united by common bonds’ but, for the peoples of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza, the ‘shared heritage” and ‘delicate mosaic’ would be shattered.”
Furthermore, the brief argues that, should the Pre-Trial Chamber decline to rule, it “would have disastrous consequences not only for the Palestinian people but for the credibility of the claims of the ICC and of the United Nations to be upholders of fundamental principles of international humanitarian law and international human rights.”