Black and white texture with a line in the middle
German debates about the Israel-Gaza war often get caught up in polarising terminology. | Photo: Siora Photography, Unsplash

Israel–Gaza Beyond the Concept of Genocide: End Mass Violence Against Civilians Now

German debates about the Israel-Gaza war often get caught up in polarising terminology. This applies in particular to the dispute whether a genocide is occurring. Apart from the legal assessment currently being made by the International Court of Justice, a parallel, polemical discussion about the concept of genocide distracts from actual priorities for action. The war has already cost tens of thousands of lives, and many more Palestinians will die as a direct and indirect consequence of the war. The mass violence against civilians and the destruction of conditions of life in Gaza must end immediately – regardless of whether the legal conditions for genocide are met.


schwarz-weiße Textur mit Linie in der Mitte
Deutsche Debatten über den Israel-Gaza-Krieg verfangen sich oft in polarisierenden Begrifflichkeiten. | Foto: Siora Photography, Unsplash

Israel-Gaza jenseits des Genozid-Begriffs: Massengewalt gegen Zivilist*innen jetzt beenden

Deutsche Debatten über den Israel-Gaza-Krieg verfangen sich oft in polarisierenden Begrifflichkeiten. Das gilt insbesondere für den Streit um das Vorliegen eines Genozids. Abgesehen von der juristischen Einschätzung, die derzeit der Internationale Gerichtshof vornimmt, lenkt eine parallellaufende, polemische Diskussion um den Völkermordsbegriff von den eigentlichen Handlungsprioritäten ab. Der Krieg kostete schon Zehntausende das Leben, noch viel mehr Palästinenser:innen werden an direkten und indirekten Kriegsfolgen sterben. Die Massengewalt gegen Zivilist:innen und der Entzug von Lebensgrundlagen in Gaza müssen sofort beendet werden – unabhängig davon, ob juristisch die Bedingungen für einen Genozid erfüllt sind.


Airplane in front of an open gate and two people in blue work suits
The F-35 program: A global enterprise centered around an American aircraft. | Photo: Amit Agronov/IDF Spokesperson's Unit | CC BY-SA 3.0

Court Orders Dutch Government to halt the Export of F-35 Parts to Israel: Implications for the War in Gaza and Beyond

In a landmark ruling in mid-February, the Hague Court of Appeal ordered the Dutch government to stop exporting parts for the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II to Israel, citing the risk of serious violations of international humanitarian law if the F-35 were used for airstrikes in Gaza. Although it seems unlikely that the court order will have any significant impact on Israeli air operations, it raises a number of legal and political challenges to the global F-35 program, the U.S. Department of Defense’s most ambitious and most expensive weapons program to date.


View over Gaza
Approximately 1.1 million people live in the north of Gaza. | Photo: © Mazur/ via flickr | CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Mass Evacuations in Israel’s War Against Hamas: Taking Precautions in Attack or Forced Displacement?

The attacks of Hamas against Israel were deeply shocking. Israel has a right to defend itself against Hamas and at the same time it is obliged to protect the civilian population of Gaza as far as possible from harm and injury. But Israel is currently facing a true dilemma. While Israeli Defense Forces try to evacuate as many residents as possible, Hamas uses civilians as human shields, including hostages. The humanitarian situation in Gaza is dire and mass evacuations further exacerbate the problem.


The Peace Palace building
The Peace Palace in The Hague, Netherlands, seat of the International Court of Justice | Photo: ICJ, wikimedia commons | Public Domain

Chemical Attacks under the Convention against Torture: A New Possible Avenue?

On the 8th of June 2023, Canada and the Netherlands initiated proceedings at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) against Syria for violating the Convention against Torture (CAT) by inter alia using chemical weapons against the civilian population. This would be the first time ever that the ICJ  had the opportunity to deal with chemical weapons in contentious proceedings. This blog post will briefly summarize the most pertinent legal questions and political implications that arise in the context of the ICJ proceedings. It will be demonstrated that the prohibition of chemical weapons is not based on a single legal framework. Rather, we need to look at the chemical weapons taboo comprehensively and from a perspective of multi-normativity.


Two penguins at the shore with a ship in the background and a boat that has people with orange jackets on it.
Danco Island, Antarctica: The small island is a landing spot for tourists and home to a Gentoo penguin colony. | Photo: Derek Oyen via Unsplash

Is Antarctica Still Exceptional? The Case for “Co-opetition” at the South Pole

Antarctic diplomacy has famously shielded the continent of peace, science, and environmental protection from outside conflict and war. This “exceptionalism” is now being tested by Russia’s war against Ukraine and the belief that international strategic competition between great powers is spilling over into the Antarctic. In order to keep the Antarctic exceptional, however, it would be wise to refocus on what has made Antarctic diplomacy so successful in the first place: cooperation in order to compete, or “co-opetition.”


International Criminal Court Building in The Hague
Es bleibt abzuwarten, wie die Mitgliedsstaaten mit dem Haftbefehl verfahren werden. | Photo: OSeveno via wikimedia commons | CC BY-SA 4.0

Der Haftbefehl des Internationalen Strafgerichtshofs gegen Putin – Eine völkerrechtliche Einordnung

Am 17. März 2023 hat der Internationale Strafgerichtshof (IStGH) Haftbefehle gegen Vladimir Putin und eine Präsidialbeamtin erlassen. Diese Entscheidung hat große Teile der Fachwelt überrascht und wirft einige Fragen auf: Auf welcher Basis kann der IStGH Putin verfolgen? Was wird ihm und der Präsidialbeamtin vorgeworfen? Ist er als amtierender Präsident vor Verfolgung besonders geschützt? Welche Staaten sind verpflichtet, den Haftbefehl umzusetzen? Was sind die politischen Folgen für Putin, das Gericht und das Völkerrecht? Der Blogbeitrag geht auf diese Fragen vor allem aus völkerrechtlicher Sicht ein.


Russian Ambassador sits at the Security Council, holding a printed page with images up in the air.
Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia speaks at Security Council meeting in New York, accusing Ukraine of developing biological weapons under the tutelage of the United States. | Photo: © picture alliance / Pacific Press | Lev Radin

Muddying the Waters: Official Russian Disinformation on Chemical and Biologial Weapons

In the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, chemical and biological weapons have once again attracted international attention due to disinformation efforts on the part of Russian officials. International forums which oversee the ban on these weapons are being used to accuse Ukraine and its allies of violating their legal obligations. Many of Russia’s accusations regarding chemical weapons resemble the patterns of deception observed in the past, while disinformation on biological weapons is displaying somewhat novel characteristics. Yet, there are tangible ways of counteracting such disinformation, thereby protecting the ban on chemical and biological weapons.


Night-time view of the Palais de Nations in Geneva
The conference outcome shows that some form of multilateral disarmament is possible even under dire circumstances. Photo: Una Jakob

The 9th Review Conference of the Biological Weapons Convention

From November 28 to December 16, 2022, the States Parties to the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) met in Geneva for the 9th Review Conference. Their task was to review the operation of the BWC and to negotiate a new programme of work for the next five years. Even though the conference took place in a tense geopolitical climate, States Parties agreed some useful measures, such as a new intersessional working group that will address a range of topics including compliance with and verification of the BWC. Despite some shortcomings, the conference outcome represents an achievement considering the current international security and arms control realities.


Der ukrainische Präsident Zelenskyy vor einem großen Bildschirm, auf dem eine Videokonferenz mit dem UN-Sicherheitsrat zu sehen ist.
Präsident Zelenskyy spricht nach russischen Raketenangriffen zum UN-Sicherheitsrat. | Photo: President of Ukraine via flickr | CC0 1.0

Der Ukraine-Krieg und das Völkerrecht. Ist das Gewaltverbot nun endgültig tot?

Der Einmarsch Russlands in die Ukraine erschüttert erneut das Vertrauen in das Völkerrecht: Er stellt einen besonders schwerwiegenden Verstoß gegen das Gewaltverbot der UN-Charta dar. Das Gewaltverbot untersagt Staaten die einseitige Androhung und Anwendung militärischer Gewalt außer zu Zwecken der Selbstverteidigung bei einem bewaffneten Angriff (Art. 2, Abs. 4 in Verbindung mit Art. 51). Dieses Verbot hat Russland gebrochen. Versetzt das dem bereits mehrfach totgesagten völkerrechtlichen Gewaltverbot endgültig den Todesstoß?