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Malaysia unlikely to invoke Genocide Convention, says expert

Publish date: Sun, 03 Dec 2023, 09:41 AM

KUALA LUMPUR: International relations experts do not see the possibility of Malaysia using the Genocide Convention against Israel over its war crimes against the people of Palestine.

Universiti Malaya Peace and Conflict Studies expert Dr Muhammad Danial Azman said it was highly unlikely for Malaysia to invest heavily in a genocide or any international human rights commitment.

Malaysia, he said, would continue to engage all countries through multilateral mechanisms in voicing concerns about Gaza, but with no aim of altering ties with Western powers.

"Our foreign policy posture is consistently unchanged because of the geopolitics of superpower rivalry, the sensitivity of our economic ties to major trading partners and multi-ethnic demography of our citizens.

"As a result, while we continue to show solidarity with the Muslim world over the situation in Gaza, dramatic decisions such as cutting ties with the West or joining the Genocide Convention (efforts) will be impractical," he told the New Sunday Times yesterday.

He said pursuing a case at the International Criminal Court (ICC) amid a conflict would often be reduced to brinkmanship of global elites and United Nations policymakers, who were mostly concerned about power politics and tensions between the United States (US) and non-US allies.

He said international law, legal enforcement and tribunals, though part of the UN system - in this case the Genocide Convention - operated separately and had no political assurance of legal compliance against those protected by the veto power of the US.

Thus, such a move would often not turn into a definitive resolution to the situation in Gaza, he added.

For instance, Danial said previous ICJ rulings and legal opinions on Israel's wall in Gaza and the West Bank had been ignored by Israel even to this day.

"What makes us believe that the approach taken by Israel or any significant power that protects Israel, will vary in any plausible scenario of Genocide Convention, ICC, or any ad hoc war crimes tribunal against Israel?

"We have to admit the limitations of international law when dealing with messy global political issues like Gaza."

International affairs observer Dr Oh Ei Sun, also cast doubt on the success of such an action through the Genocide Convention.

He said similar efforts had been made in the context of the former Yugoslavia and Myanmar, with mixed results, and there was no telling how long the suit process would take if Malaysia did so.

He also said the US would do its best to foil the application.

"Besides, not all Islamic countries may join in. The US is unlikely to sever relations with these countries over their animosity towards Israel but bringing a genocide suit will be considered by Israel as tantamount to declaring war on it.

"Israel is world famous for conducting swift and decisive operations around the world. So such countries should think twice."

Bernama reported that Malaysia could weigh in to activate Article 9 of the Genocide Convention as a potential avenue to pursue a definitive resolution to the Gaza conflict.

Board member at Law for Palestine, Hassan Ben Imran, said Malaysia's presence on international platforms, coupled with its status as a state party to the Genocide Convention, could garner support from like-minded nations and bring justice to the Palestinians.

There are 149 state parties to the Genocide Convention, in which every nation has the right to call out the genocide in Gaza and report it to the UN.

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