To All Dutch Higher Education Institutions, by Dutch Scholars for Palestine

To All Dutch Higher Education Institutions

On Friday 26 January 2024, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled in a historic judgement that there is a “plausible” case of genocide committed by Israel against the Palestinians in Gaza. In a series of Provisional Measures, the court has ordered Israel must take immediate steps to:

  • Prevent the commission of acts falling under Article II of the Genocide Convention,
    including killing or causing serious bodily or mental harm to Palestinians.
  • Ensure that its military does not commit any of the aforementioned acts.
  • Prevent and punish any incitement to genocide.
  • Enable provision of urgently needed basic services and humanitarian assistance for
    Palestinians in Gaza.
  • Prevent the destruction of any evidence related to allegations of acts of genocide.
  • Submit a report to the court on all measures taken to adhere to these orders within one month.

The present case was brought to the ICJ by South Africa, which has charged Israel with genocide based on the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide.

On January 11, 2024, South Africa’s legal representative Adila Hassim showed that Israel
perpetrates four of the five genocidal acts listed in the Convention through actions including:

  • the deliberate mass killing of Palestinians in Gaza.
  • the direct and public incitement to genocide.
  • the infliction of mental and bodily harm against Palestinians
  •  the deliberate imposition of conditions that cannot sustain life and that are calculated to bring about the destruction of Gaza through its forced displacement of most of the population.
  • the destruction of Gaza’s healthcare system that renders life there unsustainable.
  • The blocking of life-saving treatment is needed to deliver babies.

In response to South Africa’s case, the ICJ has now ruled it will pursue South Africa’s claim. This ruling received overwhelming support from the vast majority of 15 of the 17 ICJ judges. Even the judge ad hoc appointed by Israel voted in favor of two of the measures.

In other words, Israel is now under strict review by the World Court regarding its treatment of Palestinians in Gaza. In response to the ICJ interim ruling, the European Commission has stated: “Orders of the International Court of Justice are binding on the parties and they must comply with them.” Furthermore, the European Union states, “The European Union expects their full, immediate and effective implementation.”

All states parties to the Genocide Convention, including the Netherlands, have to prevent genocide. According to the ICJ’s previous case law, this duty arises when the state learns of the existence of a serious risk that genocide will be committed. The ICJ ruling in South Africa v Israel confirms that not only is there a serious risk that genocide is being committed in Gaza, but that it is plausible that genocide is being committed by Israel in Gaza. Genocide is the most egregious violation of human rights, committed with the intent to destroy a protected group as such. Dutch institutions have an obligation to avoid institutional complicity in this crime.

In light of this historic ruling, it is the duty of third-state governments to immediately implement the orders of ICJ. Concretely, this also means that third-state institutions that uphold the principles of international law are required to prevent complicity in acts of genocide, which has included the wanton and deliberate destruction of all universities and most schools throughout Gaza and the killing of 4327 students, and 231 teachers and school administrators.

It is a well-known fact that all Israeli universities and many Israeli corporations are aiding and abetting the Israeli government and military and are profiting from Israel’s illegal siege on Gaza and illegal occupation of Palestinian Territories, and are thus complicit in genocide.

For publicly-funded Dutch higher education institutions, this means we no longer have the choice of whether to cut ties with Israeli institutions and corporations aiding and abetting genocide. We are morally bound by the broad remit of the ruling and order by the International Court of Justice, the world’s highest judicial authority on international law.

As scholars working at higher education institutions in The Netherlands, we therefore call on our universities to take heed of the ICJ’s ruling and to take action by:

  • Suspending all formal and informal ties with Israeli higher education institutions.
  •  Suspending all formal and informal ties with Israeli corporations.
  • Providing resources towards building relations with Palestinian institutions of higher
    education that have been destroyed by the Israeli state.
  • Providing scholarships for Palestinian students and fellowships for faculty members who have lost their universities and livelihoods.

The tide has turned. This is no longer a matter of academic debate; this is a matter of international justice and international peace. This is a matter of upholding, recognizing, and heeding the ruling of the highest international legal institution: the International Court of Justice. As publicly-funded universities in the Netherlands that host the ICJ, it is incumbent on us to heed to the ICJ’s order and respect the international mechanisms put in place to protect all of humanity against the crime of genocide, including Palestinians. It is our duty as higher education institutions to take the lead in protecting humanity by immediately incorporating the ICJ’s binding Provisional Measures as a matter of university policy.

We request an overview of the necessary steps undertaken by your institution in line with the four demands listed above by the end of February 2024.


Dutch Scholars for Palestine

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