Friday

18th Jan 2019

Opinion

Sakharov laureates: EU states wrong to pressure Palestine on ICC

  • Place holders with names of ICC participant states (Photo: Coalition for the ICC)

Dear president of the European Parliament and EU high representative for foreign affairs,

We are human rights defenders from Algeria, Bangladesh, and Israel, united by the honour of being recipients of the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought.

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We commend the European Union for its active role in promoting human rights and justice throughout the world. The EU’s staunch support for the International Criminal Court (ICC), as an institution central to promoting global rule of law, respect for human rights and preservation of peace, has been an essential part of this role.

We write to you today to express our deep concern about the EU’s position on the question of Palestine’s accession to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

We are astonished by reports in the media, by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and others, that leading EU member states have applied pressure on the Palestinian Authority (PA) not to join the ICC or grant it jurisdiction.

We consider this a direct contradiction of the EU’s policy and a blatant double standard.

The EU’s policy, agreed upon and signed by all EU member states in 2001, has been to ask all states in the world to join the ICC. The EU has issued hundreds of diplomatic demarches to countries around the globe, urging them to join the Court. It has even conditioned its development assistance and trade agreements with dozens of countries on their commitment to take steps towards joining the ICC.

We are dismayed to hear that several EU member states are doing just the opposite in the Palestinian case, making use of their significant financial and diplomatic leverage to pressure the PA.

Such a selective approach to justice undermines the credibility of the Court and is a gift to its opponents who claim that the ICC is a political instrument of Western powers.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is complex and there can be different views regarding its causes and possible solutions. There can also be different views on alleged war crimes committed during the latest Gaza conflict and responsibilities of different parties for them.

However, as in other conflicts around the world, there cannot be a lasting peace in Israel and Palestine without justice and accountability.

Impunity for perpetrators of war crimes does not facilitate peace efforts, but encourages further violations. As an impartial institution, the ICC is best placed to hold both sides to the same standard of justice.

The EU has actively supported international justice mechanisms in conflicts in the Balkans, Africa and elsewhere. We see no reason why the EU should make an exception for Palestine and Israel.

We call on you, leaders and representatives of the EU, to actively and openly encourage the Palestinian Authority to join the ICC, as you do in other situations.

As recipients of your own Sakharov Prize, dedicated to human rights and fundamental freedoms, we ask you to be consistent with its principles - without exception, also in the case of Palestine and Israel.

Salima Ghezali, from Algeria, won the Sakharov Prize in 1997, Taslima Nasrin (Bangladesh) in 1994, and Nurit Peled-Elhanan (Israel) in 2001

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