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On EU’s ‘Day Against Impunity,’ Stand for Equal Justice

Support Accountability for Atrocities in Israel and Palestine

European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell in Brussels, Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020. © 2020 Yves Herman/Pool Photo via AP

Top EU diplomat Josep Borrell showed what a principled commitment to justice looks like, on May 7, when he pushed back against threats aimed at undermining the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) Palestine investigation. “If we respect the ICC, it has to be in any case, on any occasion, with respect to anyone,” he said. 

On May 23, the EU marks its ninth Day Against Impunity, shortly after the ICC prosecutor’s application for arrest warrants for grave international crimes committed in Israel and Palestine since October 7, 2023. ICC judges are now considering that request.

Now, EU member countries face a critical test, when it comes to their support for victims’ equal access to justice.

The EU and its member states have contributed to a strong response to serious crimes committed in Ukraine, Myanmar, Syria, and other places, supporting international and domestic justice efforts. In the past, they have also provided critical political support when the ICC justice process came under attack by those fearing accountability.

They should now apply that same principled commitment to securing justice for grave abuses in Israel and Palestine. EU members like Belgium, Ireland, Slovenia, Spain, and France have indeed expressed support for the court’s independence, even as attempts to threaten the court and its officials – particularly by some US lawmakers – intensify.

However, some responses from EU members since the ICC prosecutor announced applications for arrest warrants have been less than supportive or even critical.

The ICC is doing precisely what its members, including all EU countries, set it up to do. The EU and its members should present a common front to advance justice for atrocities committed in Israel and Palestine, as well as globally, no matter the alleged perpetrator. They should also take action to stop the commission of further crimes and unequivocally back any independent judicial effort to bring about accountability; be it through the ICC, the UN Commission of Inquiry, the International Court of Justice, or before national courts in EU countries.

No atrocity crime is ever justified. Accountability is key to ensure that they are not repeated, and that all victims have access to the redress they deserve. 

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