Five countries have called on the ICC to investigate possible war crimes in the Palestinian territories, ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan said last week.
Norway is not among the five countries. Norwegian authorities do not plan to issue such an invitation either.
Anders Kravik, State Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOF), explains that it is important for Norway to maintain the independence of the court.
– It is extremely important for the legitimacy of the International Criminal Court that the Prosecutor himself prioritizes how he conducts his investigations, including the ongoing investigation into the situation in Palestine. Therefore, it has no connection to the Norwegian measures that could be seen as setting guidelines for the independence of the ICC, Kravik wrote in an email to Dagbladet.
A different approach to Russia
The department took a somewhat different approach to the court when Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022.
The ICC prosecutor stated four days later that he wanted to open an investigation into possible war crimes committed in Ukraine. This happened on March 2, at the request Norway and 38 other countries.
The fight against impunity is fundamental to Norwegian foreign policy. “This is a clear message that acts of war are being investigated, and that any war crimes and other serious crimes on Ukrainian territory will be prosecutable,” then-Foreign Minister Annekin Hoitfeldt (AFP) said at a press conference. press release.
Joe Jacobsen, a political science professor at NTNU, calls both statements nonsense. He explains that it is not primarily a matter of law, but rather of the interests of the great powers.
– The truth is that Norway is not interested in entering into a conflict with Israel, beyond the signals that have already come from the Prime Minister, Jacobsen tells Dagbladet.
As for Norway, he believes that calling for the International Criminal Court would have a negative impact.
– If interests dictate that you do your best, do so. Jacobsen says that Norway has a close relationship with the United States and the European Union.
Researcher: – It is important to mobilize support
The International Criminal Court is already conducting an ongoing investigation into possible war crimes committed in the Palestinian territories since 2014. It has been ongoing since 2021, and faces opposition from Israel and the United States.
Geir Olfstein, professor emeritus of international law at UiO, explains that member states’ appeals to the court are still unnecessary.
– Such requests demonstrate political support from these countries, which gives the investigation additional weight and could secure the court additional resources, Olfstein tells Dagbladet.
The government’s expression of its belief that international law has been violated in Israel and Gaza since October 7 makes the call even more important, he believes.
It is therefore important to gather as much support as possible for the ICC’s investigation into possible war crimes, says Olfstein.
The five invitations received so far are from South Africa, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Comoros and Djibouti.
-Does it matter to the ICC if Norway joins them?
– It would have been more symbolic if countries like Norway had separated from the rest of the West; Yes, but that would be negative for what Norway defines as its own interests, says NTNU professor Jacobsen.
He believes that the approach of the two wars highlights the double standards that abound in international politics.
– Jacobsen says the hypocrisy is very clear now.
The triumph of Russian propaganda
Russia benefited from the fact that the world’s attention turned to the Middle East in recent weeks, while it continued its war in Ukraine.
At the same time, the Kremlin has used the war between Israel and Hamas to highlight double standards – especially on the part of the United States, which supports the Israeli war on Gaza while at the same time condemning the Russian war on Ukraine.
The NTNU professor believes that the rules of war are at a crossroads.
– It has now been proven that everything is legal if you feel that you are in an existential conflict. Jacobsen says this sets a precedent for the future, and Russia sees it as a major propaganda victory.
Karim Khan admitted in October that the court’s investigations into conditions in the Palestinian territories had been slow.
– It has been a persistent problem that the Tribunal as a whole and my office do not receive sufficient funding to enable us to do our work. “I created a team and over the course of two years I increased the team’s resources,” Khan said in an interview. Reuters.
By comparison, broad support for the investigation into Ukraine ensured the court allocated funding, coordination and technology from 45 countries.
The investigation will certainly run its course, but I don’t think it will be a very big problem for Israel, says Jacobsen.
He justifies this by saying that the West has no interest in promoting Israel as a war criminal. The International Criminal Court also does not have the authority to follow up on its rulings.
– This could make it more difficult to persecute Russia, because Israel is doing what it is doing in Gaza, Jacobsen says.
“Coffee trailblazer. Certified pop culture lover. Infuriatingly humble gamer.”