Why is Nicaragua taking Germany to court?

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Nicaragua has brought an international legal case against Germany accusing the country of “facilitating the commission of genocide” against Palestinians in Gaza via its arms exports to Israel.
Presenting the case to the ICJ, Nicaragua argued that Germany has violated its obligations to ensure that it has taken steps to avoid assisting Israel as the perpetrator of genocide.
Last year, Germany’s arms sales to Israel totalled €326.5 million, according to data from the Economy Ministry.
The German team also maintain that Nicaragua has overestimated the amount of arms and military equipment it has provided to Israel.
The German case also questions the use of the term “genocide”, saying it has not yet been legally established that Israel is committing genocide.
According to Lissowsky, Germany has been selected as the target of the case because Nicaragua is closely allied with Russia.
Sends a clear message Nicaragua nonetheless has drawn support for its case across the political spectrum, including within Germany.
“In the same way that the South Africa ICJ case sent a signal that Israel’s genocide in Gaza could be scrutinised, this new Nicaragua case sends a clear signal that other countries’ complicity in genocide can be scrutinised too,” he said.

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Nicaragua has filed a lawsuit in international court against Germany, claiming that the nation’s arms sales to Israel have “facilitated the commission of genocide” against Palestinians in Gaza.

Germany is accused of violating the 1948 Genocide Convention and other general international law norms by taking part in “the ongoing plausible genocide and serious breaches of international humanitarian law and other peremptory norms of general international law occurring in the Gaza Strip,” according to the case that has been filed with the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

As the case was brought before the ICJ, Nicaragua maintained that Germany had failed to fulfill its duty to guarantee that it had taken action to prevent aiding Israel in its genocide.

According to data from the Economy Ministry, Germany sold €326.5 million worth of weapons to Israel last year.

As a result of claims that some of its employees participated in the October 7 massacre that Hamas planned in southern Israel, the nation is one of 15 countries that have stopped funding UNRWA, the primary UN organization providing humanitarian aid in Gaza.

The case of Nicaragua requires judges to impose emergency measures that would prevent Berlin from arming its political ally, Israel, or giving it other support.

The defence’s argument.

Germany has dismissed Nicaragua’s claims, referring to the case as “biased”.

Germany argued that it is supporting Israel’s right to exist based on the lessons it has learned from its own history in its legal submission to the court on Tuesday.

The German team also asserts that Nicaragua exaggerates the quantity of weapons and military hardware it has given Israel. Attorney Tania von Uslar-Gleichen reported that since October 7, Berlin has only authorized the export of four licenses for war weapons to Israel.

The German case also challenges the validity of the term “genocide,” arguing that Israel’s complicity in the crime has not yet been proven by the courts.

A few opponents of the case have called attention to Nicaragua’s own spotty human rights record, arguing that it has an impact on the country’s choice to file the lawsuit against Berlin.

Noting that Nicaragua’s judiciary is under the president and vice president’s authority, Michaela Lissowsky, Head of the Human Rights Hub at the Friedrich Naumann Foundation, which is affiliated with Germany’s Free Democratic Party, referred to the action as “a cheap diversionary tactic”.

Nicaragua is closely aligned with Russia, which is why Lissowsky claims Germany has been designated as the case’s objective.

She stated, “Germany is defending itself against Russian disinformation and political influence, in addition to supporting Ukraine in its defense against the Russian war of aggression.”.

clear message is sent.

Despite this, Nicaragua has garnered support for its cause from a wide range of political quarters, including Germany.

600 German civil servants have written to senior ministers, as first reported by Al Jazeera, demanding that Germany cease supplying Israel with arms as per the demands outlined in the case.

Though a decision in the case is probably a long way off, the substance of the case and Nicaragua’s choice to file it could have a significant effect on other nations that sign international humanitarian conventions but also provide Israel with weapons.

Perhaps the most significant contribution of the case is the precedent it establishes for state accountability, as Senior Public Affairs Officer Jonathan Purcell of the International Centre of Justice for Palestinians told Euronews.

He explained, “This new Nicaragua case sends a clear signal that other countries’ complicity in genocide can be scrutinized too, in the same way that the South Africa ICJ case sent a signal that Israel’s genocide in Gaza could be scrutinized.”.

Over 33,175 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza since the beginning of the conflict, and pressure is mounting on Israel’s Western allies for their backing of the Israeli military campaign there.

A letter warning that the British government may be breaking international law by continuing to provide Israel with military aid was signed by 600 lawyers, academics, and retired judges in the UK last week. To date, the government has declined to release the legal counsel it requested regarding the legitimacy of the conflict.

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