Chile will resort to the International Criminal Court to investigate possible international crimes in Palestine
Alfredo Naim Navarrete Piter
International Justice and Human Rights Researcher
Global Human Rights Defence
On January 9, Chile's ambassador to the United Nations, Paula Narváez, stated before the General Assembly Chile's firm position of resorting to the International Criminal Court of Justice to investigate alleged international crimes in Palestine.
"Chile will not remain indifferent to the current situation and the pain of the Palestinian people. For this reason, Chile will promptly submit the referral of the situation in Palestine to the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to request an investigation of the international crimes committed in the occupied Palestinian territories, for which we hope other countries can join." (translated from Spanish)
This move is part of a growing trend of Latin American governments to actively participate in the international diplomatic forum and international instances to address the situation in Palestine. Countries such as Chile and Colombia have recalled their ambassadors to Israel for consultations, deteriorating diplomatic relations and pressuring the Israeli government for actions considered in violation of International Humanitarian Law. Colombia has even expressed its intention to establish an embassy in Palestine.
Bolivia, for its part, has gone further, breaking diplomatic relations with Israel and filing a request with the International Criminal Court to investigate the situation in Palestine for possible international crimes. Brazil and Colombia, followed by Bolivia, Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba, diplomatically support South Africa's claim against Israel before the International Court of Justice for violations of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, which is currently in hearings and seeks precautionary measures for the cessation of hostilities.
The situation in Palestine has led these countries to seek the intervention of two international tribunals. On the one hand, the International Court of Justice, which resolves disputes between nations over violations of international obligations arising from treaties they choose to ratify, and on the other hand, the International Criminal Court, which according to the Rome Statute, has the authority to investigate, try and punish individuals in relation to crimes such as genocide (the specific intent to destroy in whole or in part a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, whether by killing its members or by other methods), crimes against humanity (grave breaches committed in the context of a large-scale attack against any civilian population), war crimes (grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions in the context of an armed conflict, such as the use of child soldiers, the killing or torture of persons as civilians or prisoners of war) and the crime of aggression (the use of armed force by one state against the sovereignty, integrity or independence of another state).
Procedurally, the ICC Prosecutor can initiate an investigation at the request of a state, the UN Security Council or ex officio with the authorisation of the court. Based on available information, which may come from individuals, groups or states, the prosecutor may open an investigation and bring the case before the court if he or she considers that there are reasonable grounds to believe that an international crime has been committed.
From the declarations of the Chilean government and its ambassador to the United Nations, it is not clear which alleged crimes will be brought to the attention of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (the only one authorised to submit cases to the Court), nor is it clear who is or are attributed with the possible commission of these international crimes. However, like Bolivia, it is clear that Chile now intends to set international justice in motion in a new instance to seek the protection of the fundamental rights of those affected by the conflict and possible reparation for its violations through the investigation and punishment of those who turn out to be responsible.
Sources and further reading:
Bolivia rompe con Israel y Chile llama a consultas a su embajador. (2023, November 1). ELMUNDO. https://www.elmundo.es/internacional/2023/11/01/65424a43fdddff777a8b4587.html
Ferrer, I. (2024, January 11). Sudáfrica acusa ante el Tribunal de la ONU al “más alto nivel” del Gobierno israelí de incitar al genocidio en Gaza. El País. https://elpais.com/internacional/2024-01-11/sudafrica-acusa-ante-el-tribunal-de-la-onu-al-mas-alto-nivel-del-gobierno-israeli-de-incitar-al-genocidio-en-gaza.html
Godoy, D. (2024, January 11). Brasil, Colombia, Bolivia y Venezuela apoyan la denuncia contra Israel ante la CIJ por genocidio. NODAL. https://www.nodal.am/2024/01/brasil-colombia-bolivia-y-venezuela-apoyan-la-denuncia-contra-israel-ante-la-cij-por-genocidio/
How the Court works. (n.d.). Retrieved 16 January 2024, from https://www.icc-cpi.int/about/how-the-court-works
Muñoz-Ledo, R. (2023, November 1). Colombia y Chile llaman a consulta a sus embajadores en Israel tras los mortíferos ataques contra Gaza. CNN. https://cnnespanol.cnn.com/2023/10/31/colombia-chile-llaman-a-consulta-embajadores-israel-mortiferos-ataques-gaza-trax/
Office of the Prosecutor. (n.d.). Retrieved 16 January 2024, from https://www.icc-cpi.int/about/otp
Siglo, P. el. (2024, January 11). Chile recurre ante la CPI por genocidio de Israel contra el pueblo palestino. El Siglo. https://elsiglo.cl/chile-recurre-ante-la-cpi-por-genocidio-de-israel-contra-el-pueblo-palestino/
TheAvatarist (Director). (2024, January 9). Chile presentará remisión de la situación en Palestina a la Corte Penal Internacional. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tcDPn3_te7Y