Australia Considers ICJ Genocide Case Against Iran

by Julian Ku

I have thought all along that bringing an ICJ case against Iran for “incitement to genocide” against Jews in Israel is a useless gesture (and one with a weak legal footing to boot). But former U.S. presidential candidate Mitt Romney seemed attracted by the idea, and now, new Australian Prime Minister Paul Rudd is saying that Australia is seriously considering such a case.

The Australian government is mulling over a decision to haul Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad before the International Court of Justice for inciting violence against Israel and denying Jewish holocaust, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said Wednesday.

I vaguely recall that this was a campaign pledge of some sort during the recent Australian elections. And Australia definitely has all the legal resources to bring a respectable case (unlike Iran’s flirtation with Professor Boyle). In any event, it is odd that Australia would be able to bring such a case given that there is no incitement against Australia, but as a number of commenters have reminded me, suffering an injury doesn’t seem to matter for a genocide claim. The relevant article seems to be Article 9 of the Convention Against Genocide:

Disputes between the Contracting Parties relating to the interpretation, application or fulfilment of the present Convention, including those relating to the responsibility of a State for genocide or for any of the other acts enumerated in article III, shall be submitted to the International Court of Justice at the request of any of the parties to the dispute.

And I suppose the key article will be Article 3(c) (“The following acts shall be punishable: (c) Direct and public incitement to commit genocide;”)

I just don’t think there is the factual basis for such a case (yet). But I’m no expert. Luckily, we have recently had some experts, namely Professor Susan Benesch, weigh in during our recent VJIL symposium. Under her six part approach, I don’t think Australia has a case (yet) (see pp. 527-28). But in any event, I do hope that the Australian government is consulting her.

One Response

  1. The problem of Americans inaccurately reporting the name of Australian Prime Ministers is not new, however it doesn’t take an extensive google search to find out that the current PM is called KEVIN Rudd, not Paul. An accurate reading of the article you linked to and quoted would also have done the trick.

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