By Niklas Jakobsson
A game-changer say some, a step towards justice and peace say others: the decision by Palestine to sign the Rome Statute on 31 December 2014 was arguably one of the most significant events of the year. The cliché expressions were obvious: saving the best for last? Going out with a bang? End the year on a high note?
News started to fill Twitter six hours before the New Year was meant to hit most of Europe. Champagne glasses were chilled, dinner was in the oven and people were dressed to the nines. But with a few statements of 140 characters or less, sorting out a tie, picking the right shoes and putting on the finishing touches just seemed to fade away to a remote place in the brain. I for one was torn between custom Twitter feeds on the one hand, family and loved ones on the other.
Palestine’s signature of the Rome Statute came the day after a failed bid to have it recognized as a state by the UN Security Council. During the Assembly of the States Parties earlier in December, Palestine made strong suggestions that they “would become the 123th member of the ICC”.
Even though information about Palestine’s decision to sign the Statute came out via Twitter, it didn’t take long before lengthy analysis was posted on blogs and newspapers all over the Internet. The decision by Mahmoud Abbas to sign the Rome Statute was well-received overall. But some saw it as a desperate gesture by a man whose political career is hanging by a thread.
“It is a gesture of close to despair by a leader with tiny left to lose.”
Whether in despair or not, Abbas’s move was seen as one of the major events of 2014, according to an article in the The Times of Israel.
“Yesterday was a game-changer for Palestinian lawfare against Israel. The world is a different and much harsher place for Israel after the Palestinians signed the Rome Statute, which probably grants them access to the International Criminal Court.”
But when will it actually become a harsh place in legal terms, if ever? One of the main arguments across the board was that the complexity of the ICC would mean years of processes before justice, if any, will be on the cards. In lengthy articles in the New York Times as well as The Guardian, writers showed little hope for a swift and painless process.
“Those who are familiar with the workings of the Hague-based court know that the route to convicting Israelis for war crimes or crimes against humanity is long and complicated.
“The political fallout from the Palestinian move Wednesday to join the International Criminal Court is likely to be swift and profound.
Going back to Twitter, we find overwhelming support for Palestine’s move to join the ICC. In the blink of an eye, it seemed like most International Justice commentators jumped onto Twitter in order to express their support for Abbas move.
The move was widely condemned by Israel, the United States of America, France and Canada, amongst others.
Analysis of the ratification, the legal implications and the judicial processes involved were also highly discussed. To get an overview of the main points, I suggest this piece by Just Security.
– What was your reaction to Palestine joining the ICC?
– Will the Office of the Prosecutor open an investigation into the Israel-Palestine conflict in 2015?
– Was this a smart move by President Abbas?
– How will this affect future relations between Israel and Palestine?
Osvaldo Gutierrez Gomez is a Cuban cartoonist who works for Cartoon Movement.
The Weekly Hubble features the most popular or controversial international justice story of the past week and reactions on social media to the news.