UN Demands A Cease Arms Exports to Israel Amid Genocide Concerns

In an unprecedented move, UN experts urgently demand an immediate cessation of all munitions and weapons of mass destruction being transferred to Israel, citing potential violations of humanitarian principles if weaponry contributes to the conflict in Gaza.

This follows a Dutch appeals court’s order for the Netherlands to halt the export of F-35 fighter jet parts to Israel, pointing to a “clear risk” of these components being used for serious violations of humanitarian norms. The court highlights extensive civilian casualties, widespread infrastructure destruction, and the displacement of a significant portion of the Palestinian population in the region.

Grim statistics reveal a dire humanitarian situation in Gaza, with over 29,313 Palestinians killed and 69,333 injured since October 7, 2023, the majority being women and children. The experts underscore Israel’s repeated failure to comply with global norms.

States Parties to the Arms Trade Treaty, including European Union member states, are reminded of their additional obligations to deny arms exports if there is knowledge that the arms could contribute to international crimes or if there is an overriding risk of serious violations of humanitarian norms.

The urgency for an arms embargo on Israel is further emphasized by the International Court of Justice’s ruling on January 26, 2024, stating a plausible risk of genocide in Gaza. The Genocide Convention of 1948 obliges states to employ all reasonably available means to prevent genocide, including halting arms exports in the current circumstances.

Several countries, including Belgium, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, and the Japanese company Itochu Corporation, have already suspended arms transfers to Israel. The European Union has also discouraged arms exports to the region.

However, the experts urge the United States and Germany, the largest arms exporters, along with other military exporters like France, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia, to immediately cease arms transfers to Israel. They stress that arms transfers to Hamas and other armed groups are also prohibited due to their grave violations of humanitarian norms.

The duty to ensure respect for humanitarian principles applies in all circumstances, including when countering terrorism, and state officials involved in arms exports may face individual criminal liability for aiding and abetting war crimes, crimes against humanity, or acts of genocide.

The experts emphasize the importance of diplomatic measures, technical assistance, sanctions, referrals to international bodies, and support for investigations to ensure compliance with humanitarian norms. They highlight the role of arms companies and businesses investing in them, urging respect for human rights and international norms to avoid complicity in violations.

In a stern message, the experts conclude, “All states must avoid complicity in crimes through arms transfers and do their part to urgently end the unrelenting humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza.”