An adverse ICJ ruling on Nicaragua in 1984 shows how the U.S. subverts international law when it chooses.

By Jon Schwarz, The Intercept

On Friday, the International Court of Justice — part of the United Nations — issued an interim ruling in the case initiated by South Africa asserting that Israel “is committing genocide in manifest violation of the Genocide Convention.” What happens now?

International court of justice
Photo courtesy of International Court of Justice/UPI

The court did not make a determination on South Africa’s first request, which was to instruct Israel to “immediately suspend its military operation in and against Gaza” — i.e., engage in a ceasefire.

However, the ICJ did demand that Israel take actions that for all intents and purposes do require it to stop its assault on Gaza. “Israel must,” the ICJ stated, “take all measures in its power to prevent the commission of all acts within the scope of Article II of this [Genocide] Convention, in particular: (a) killing members of the group [i.e., Palestinians in Gaza].”

If history is anything to go by, the United States will now step in to prevent any enforcement of the ICJ’s ruling. While it’s totally forgotten today by Americans — and indeed was barely noticed at the time — the ICJ responded to a complaint from Nicaragua during the 1980s by ruling that the U.S. had violated international law in numerous ways by mining Nicaragua’s harbors and supporting the Contras in their attempt to overthrow the country’s Sandinista government.

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