Governments MUST fulfil their obligations under the Fourth Geneva Convention (#gaza #israel #middleeast #humanrights)

genconvWe have seen a distinct lack of action/interest by governments around the world to criticise the Zionist government in Israel, or in taking serious action to bring about a ceasefire in Gaza.

Initially, the political rhetoric was that Israel had a right to defend itself, even though it was obvious to people around the world that the Zionist government was guilty of horrific war crimes against the people of Gaza.

It was not until the UN intervened and started an investigation that some world leaders started to make harsher statements, with some directly criticising the Zionist government for its barbaric military offensive.

But overall we have seen an apathetic approach from major world powers in protecting the rights of Palestinian citizens in Gaza.

Some government leaders have attempted ‘smoke and mirrors’ tactics, by making neutral statements to the public and taking little or no action behind the scenes.

In particular (and because we are UK nationals) the UK government has shown a distasteful and abominable lack of commitment to taking action, or in rallying other world leaders to take action, to bring about a serious initiative to impose a ceasefire in Gaza or fulfil the government’s obligations under the convention.

However, under the Fourth Geneva Convention world leaders of signatory nations are OBLIGED to take action – it is not optional and there are no grey area which these political idiots can use to try and save their own skins. It was written that way for a purpose.

The convention protects the rights of civilians in times of war and conflict, and places obligations on signatory nations to protect those rights and to take action should those rights be ignored or abused.

It also places an obligation on signatory nations to investigate with all power any suspected crimes, and to bring those responsible to the International Criminal Court. Again, this is not an option – it is an obligation.

Although the UN is currently investigating the Zionist government’s actions, it is also the responsibility of each country to ensure they take action necessary under the convention to protect civilians in the conflict – in this case the Palestinian civilians in Gaza.

The Fourth Geneva Convention contains 159 main Articles and supplementary Articles in the three annexes covering the treatment of civilians and the requirements for signatories to protect those rights. The Fourth Geneva Convention with explanatory notes can be found on the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) website here.

Article 1 of the Fourth Geneva Convention is very simple and straightforward stating:

“The High Contracting Parties undertake to respect and to ensure respect for the present Convention in all circumstances.”

All circumstances” means that signatories can not pick and choose when or if they take action required under the convention. They MUST take action in ALL CIRCUMSTANCES.

As we mentioned before, there are obligations on signatories to investigate suspected war crimes and bring those responsible to justice.

Article 146 states:

The High Contracting Parties undertake to enact any legislation necessary to provide effective penal sanctions for persons committing, or ordering to be committed, any of the grave breaches of the present Convention defined in the following Article [referring to Article 147].

Each High Contracting Party shall be under the obligation to search for persons alleged to have committed, or to have ordered to be committed, such grave breaches, and shall bring such persons, regardless of their nationality, before its own courts. It may also, if it prefers, and in accordance with the provisions of its own legislation, hand such persons over for trial to another High Contracting Party concerned, provided such High Contracting Party has made out a ‘ prima facie ‘ case.

Each High Contracting Party shall take measures necessary for the suppression of all acts contrary to the provisions of the present Convention other than the grave breaches defined in the following Article [referring to Article 147].

In all circumstances, the accused persons shall benefit by safeguards of proper trial and defence, which shall not be less favourable than those provided by Article 105 and those following of the Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War of August 12, 1949.”

Article 147 states:

“Grave breaches to which the preceding Article [referring to Article 146] relates shall be those involving any of the following acts, if committed against persons or property protected by the present Convention: wilful killing, torture or inhuman treatment, including biological experiments, wilfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health, unlawful deportation or transfer or unlawful confinement of a protected person, compelling a protected person to serve in the forces of a hostile Power, or wilfully depriving a protected person of the rights of fair and regular trial prescribed in the present Convention, taking of hostages and extensive destruction and appropriation of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly.”

Both Article 146 and Article 147 are very clear in the obligations placed on signatories to the convention. Articles in the Convention are not awash with ‘legalese’ or distracting complicated language or overblown definitions. They were written to be as effective as possible in clear and direct language – leaving no ‘get-out’ clauses or loopholes.

In the case of the Zionist government in Israel, they have clearly and wilfully breached international humanitarian law – not only because of external observation of events in Gaza, but through their own public statements.

Therefore, it is an obligation of signatories to the Fourth Geneva Convention to take the action required of them – there is no option not to.

From our perspective in the UK, the government has attempted to push the subject of Zionist attack on Gaza into the background.

David Cameron (the prime minister) has failed to take any initiative in bringing about a ceasefire or in criticising the Zionist government. Neither has he taken any initiative to comment on potential war crimes, let alone take any positive action to investigate them.

However, he has taken very swift action against, and remained highly critical of, Russia over the alleged missile attack on flight MH17 in the Ukraine. Although this is an important international event that requires action to establish the circumstances and who is responsible, Cameron’s swift action and vocalisation occurred without any investigation or definitive proof that Russia had any involvement with the tragedy at the time of Cameron’s statements.

Since then, we have seen sanctions imposed on Russia and Cameron remains highly vocal.

Cameron has not taken action or been vocal concerning the Zionist atrocities and genocide in Gaza, even though there is much more evidence and it is clear who is responsible.

Although the UK foreign minister, Philip Hammond, visited Israel and was apparently part of the US initiative to bring about a ceasefire in Gaza, this only occurred after the US had (surprisingly) taken action long before the visit by Hammond. In effect, the UK government – specifically Cameron – suppressed any involvement until his hand was forced to do so.

In the UK right now, Cameron is involved in ‘smoke and mirrors’ tactics to take the focus away from his inaction over Gaza.

As one of the world’s supposed ‘leading powers’ the UK government should have been actively involved from the beginning, as they were over the downing of the flight in the Ukraine.

In the last month, Cameron has stated that he wants Britain to be seen as the ‘champion’ of human rights around the world, as he attempts to remove current human rights legislation.

We say that actions speak louder than words, and Cameron and the UK government have failed spectacularly in protecting the human rights of the people of Gaza.

Whatever the political ‘smoke-and-mirrors’ governments around the world use to keep a low profile in the Gaza conflict, the fact is that they are obliged to comply with the requirements of the Fourth Geneva Convention – they do not have an option.

Therefore, we call on all signatories to the Convention to fulfil their obligations and bring those responsible for the atrocities we have seen over weeks of abuse to justice.

More importantly right now, we call on those same signatories to bring about a ceasefire using all the powers given to them under international law to stop the suffering of Gaza’s civilian population.

Links:

The Fourth Geneva Convention with explanatory notes on the ICRC website.

Signatories to the Fourth Geneva Convention on the ICRC website

Joint Declaration by International Law Experts on Israel’s Gaza Offensive

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