The overwhelming majority of the bench besides Sebuntinde and Israeli Justice Aharon Barak, approved emergency measures.

As the world dissects the landmark ruling by the International Court of Justice’s (ICJ) on South Africa’s Gaza genocide case against Israel, Ugandan Judge Julia Sebuntinde is drawing attention.

Sebuntinde is the only judge who voted against all the provisional measures ordered by the Peace Palace to prevent genocidal acts in Gaza.

The overwhelming majority of the bench besides Sebuntinde and Israeli Justice Aharon Barak, approved emergency measures.

ICJ judgement

In its judgment on Friday, the ICJ ordered Israel to take “all measures within its power” to prevent acts of genocide in Gaza.

“The State of Israel shall, in accordance with its obligations under the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, in relation to Palestinians in Gaza, take all measures within its power to prevent the commission of all acts within the scope of Article Il of this Convention,” Justice Joan Donoghue, the court’s president said.

ALSO READ: WATCH: Pandor warns of difficulty in Israel implementing ICJ order

Sebuntinde vote against SA

In a dissenting opinion, Sebutinde stated: “South Africa didn’t demonstrate that the acts allegedly committed by Israel were “committed with the necessary genocidal intent, and that as a result, they are capable of falling within the scope of the Genocide Convention.”

“In my respectful dissenting opinion the dispute between the State of Israel and the people of Palestine is essentially and historically a political one.

“It is not a legal dispute susceptible to judicial settlement by the Court,” she added, calling for the charges by South Africa to be dismissed entirely.

Experts argued that Sebutinde failed to conduct a thorough assessment of the situation.

“I think what the dissenting opinion gets wrong is that genocide is not a political dispute, it’s a legal matter. Both South Africa and Israel signed the Genocide Convention in 1948 and accept the jurisdiction over breaches of the Genocide Convention and failure to prevent genocide,” Mark Kersten, assistant professor at the University of the Fraser Valley focusing on human rights law, told Al Jazeera.

Not representing Uganda

Born in February 1954, Sebutinde is a Ugandan judge serving her second term at the ICJ. She has been a judge at the court since March 2021 and is the first African woman to sit on the international court.

However, the ambassador of Uganda to the United Nations Adonia Ayebare said on X that Sebuntinde does not represent the country’s position in Palestine.

“Justice Sebutinde ruling at the International Court of Justice does not represent the Government of Uganda’s position on the situation in Palestine. She has previously voted against Uganda’s case on DRC. Uganda’s support for the plight of the Palestinian people has been expressed through Uganda ‘s voting pattern at the United Nations,” Ayebare said.

In October last year, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni said the Gaza conflict was “regrettable” and suggested a two-state solution.

The court  ruled that Israel must report to the court within a month on what it is doing to uphold the order to take all measures within its power to prevent acts of genocide in Gaza. Donoghue said the ruling creates international legal obligations for Israel.

ALSO READ: Ramaphosa says ICJ decision important to secure justice for Gaza


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *