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ICJ Declines to Indicate Provisional Measures Against Germany

Maya Nicholson
Tuesday, April 30, 2024, 6:07 PM

On April 30, the International Court of Justice rejected Nicaragua’s request for provisional measures, including to order Germany to stop selling arms to Israel.

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On April 30, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the case of Nicaragua v. Germany rejected Nicaragua’s request for provisional measures against Germany related to its aid to Israel and its decision to halt direct funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). Nicaragua brought the case to the ICJ on March 1, 2024, and the Court held arguments on April 8 and 9. 

Nicaragua, among other claims, asserted that Germany was in violation of the Geneva Convention for “not only failing to prevent the ongoing genocide but by providing aid, including military equipment, to Israel” and “by withdrawing the financial assistance to the victims provided by UNRWA.” Nicaragua requested the Court indicate provisional measures against Germany requiring it to suspend aid to Israel (including military assistance), to ensure that the military equipment Germany had already provided to Israel was “not used to commit or to facilitate serious violations of the Genocide Convention,” and to resume funding for the UNRWA. 

Germany has argued that it employs strict licensing standards under which it evaluates whether the transfer of arms poses “any risk of serious violations of the Genocide Convention, international humanitarian law and other peremptory norms of international law by the recipient State,” and that there is no evidence that its transfer of military equipment to Israel has facilitated genocide or broken international humanitarian law. Germany has also said that it has worked to influence Israel to improve the humanitarian situation in Gaza, and it asked the Court to reject the request for the provisional measures submitted by Nicaragua and throw out the case due to lack of jurisdiction. 

By 15 votes to one, the ICJ ordered that based on the factual information and legal arguments presented by both parties, the circumstances did not require the Court to exercise its power under Article 41 and issue Nicaragua’s requested provisional measures. 

According to the Court, “Under the German legal framework, for every licence [for the export of military equipment] that is granted, an assessment is carried out by the German Government to ascertain whether there is a clear risk that the particular item subject to licensing would be used in the commission of genocide, crimes against humanity or grave breaches of the four Geneva Conventions.” The Court also noted the significant reduction since November 2023 in the value of material that the German government has licensed for transfer. The Court further stated that contributions to the UNRWA are voluntary and that Germany had continued to contribute to the agency through the European Union. The ICJ additionally denied Germany’s request to remove the case, determining that it will continue to proceed.

You can read the ICJ’s Order here or below:

Maya Nicholson is Lawfare's Spring 2024 editorial intern. She graduated cum laude with a B.A. in International Relations from New York University in 2023. Maya has interned in several law firms including Farris LLP, McLaughlin and Stern, and was previously a UN Advocacy Intern at the International Crisis Group.

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