Brett Wilkins – ICJ Rejects Nicaragua’s Request to Block German Arms Sales to Israel

However, the World Court did not grant Germany’s request to dismiss the case‚ in which Nicaragua accuses Berlin of enabling Israeli genocide in Gaza.

Brett Wilkins is a staff writer for Common Dreams

Cross-posted from Common Dreams


The top United Nations court on Tuesday overwhelmingly rejected Nicaragua’s request for an emergency order directing Germany to halt arms sales to Israel as it wages what the tribunal previously called a “plausibly” genocidal war against Palestinians in Gaza.

International Court of Justice (ICJ) judges voted 15-1 against the Nicaraguan motion, finding an absence of legal conditions for issuing an order blocking Germany from selling arms to Israel.

“Based on the factual information and legal arguments presented by the parties, the court concludes that, at present, the circumstances are not such as to require the exercise of its power… to indicate provisional measures,” ICJ President Nawaf Salam wrote in the ruling.

However, the court did not grant Germany’s request for an outright dismissal and will hear arguments on the merits of the Nicaraguan case, a process expected to take months to complete.

Carlos José Argüello Gómez, the head of Nicaragua’s legal team and its ambassador to the Netherlands, said after the ruling that the court’s decision “doesn’t mean that Germany hasn’t violated… international law.”

“Germany has—from our point of view—violated international law” by providing weapons for Israel, Argüello contended.

Nicaragua asserts that Germany—which provided nearly 30% of Israel’s exported arms last year—is complicit in Israeli war crimes and is enabling genocide against Palestinians in Gaza. Palestinian and international officials say that more than 123,000 Palestinians have been killed, maimed, or left missing by Israel’s relentless 207-day onslaught and siege, which has also displaced around 90% of Gaza’s 2.3 million people and driven at least hundreds of thousands of people to the brink of starvation. The majority of those killed have been women and children.

“Germany is failing to honor its own obligation to prevent genocide or to ensure respect of international humanitarian law,” Argüello argued during case hearings earlier this month.

According to the Lawyers’ Collective—a Berlin-based group that is suing to stop German arms sales to Israel—Germany’s government issued €326.5 million ($348.7 million) worth of weapons export licenses for Israel last year, the majority of which were approved after October 7, 2023. That’s a tenfold increase from 2022. The group says these transfers violate Germany’s obligations under the War Weapons Control Act, which requires arms exports to comply with international humanitarian law.

Germany counters that its weapons sales to Israel have decreased since the October 7 attack and emphasizes what it says are the defensive nature of recent arms transfers. Berlin also says it has robust internal mechanisms and processes to consider the human rights implications of German arms sales.

Top German diplomat Tania von Uslar-Gleichen, who is leading Germany’s legal team at the ICJ, said during hearings that Nicaragua’s allegations “have no basis in fact or law.”

Reacting to the ICJ ruling, the German Foreign Office said that “Germany is not a party to the conflict in the Middle East. On the contrary, we are working day and night for a two-state solution.”

“We are the largest donor of humanitarian aid to the Palestinians,” the ministry added. “We are working to ensure that aid reaches the people in Gaza.”

The German government has been intensely criticized for its stauch support for Israel and for violently cracking down on pro-Palestinian protests since October. Numerous observers contend that Germany’s actions are driven by historical guilt over the Holocaust, with some critics claiming the German government is weaponizing that guilt in order to demonize Palestinians and their defenders.

Israel—which is not a party to the case—vehemently denies genocide charges, arguing it is defending itself in the wake of the Hamas-led attacks that left more than 1,100 people dead and around 240 others taken hostage. Israeli forces are believed to have killed numerous Israelis on October 7 and an unknown number of hostages since then during the bombardment and invasion of Gaza.

In addition to Nicaragua’s motion, the ICJ is considering a case brought by South Africa and supported by over 30 nations asserting that Israel’s Gaza assault is genocidal because it is “intended to bring about the destruction of a substantial part of the Palestinian national, racial, and ethnical group.”

On January 26, the tribunal issued a provisional ruling that found Israel is “plausibly” committing genocide in Gaza and ordered the country to prevent genocidal acts. Critics accuse Israel of ignoring the order by continuing to block humanitarian aid from reaching Gazans as children and other vulnerable people starve to death.

Citing “the worsening conditions of life faced by Palestinians in Gaza, in particular the spread of famine and starvation,” the ICJ last month issued another provisional order directing Israel to allow desperately needed aid into the embattled enclave and reiterating its earlier order to prevent genocidal acts.

Also last month, the U.N. Human Rights Council published a draft report that found “reasonable grounds to believe” that Israel is committing genocide in Gaza.

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