ICJ Issues First Ruling in Nicaragua v. Germany – Case Shall be Heard, but no Provisional Measures 


ICJ Issues First Ruling in Nicaragua v. Germany – Case Shall be Heard, but no Provisional Measures 

London, 30th April 2024– Today, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) has issued its ruling on the request for provisional measures in the case of ‘Alleged Breaches of Certain International Obligations in respect of the Occupied Palestinian Territory’ (Nicaragua v Germany).  

The Court found by a majority of 15-1 that the “circumstances, as they now present themselves to the Court are not such as to require the exercise of its power under article 41 of the Statute to indicate provisional measures,” including the cessation of German arms sales to Israel.  The Court’s order also rejected Germany’s argument that the Court lacked jurisdiction, and decided that the case should proceed to the merits stage. 

As the Court declined Germany’s request to reject the case, the legal arguments will continue in a full, rather than preliminary, hearing to determine the merits of Nicaragua’s argument that Germany is participating in the ongoing plausible genocide in Gaza and other breaches of international humanitarian law by providing material support to Israel.    

Building upon South Africa’s case against Israel regarding violations of its obligations under the Genocide Convention, Nicaragua’s case against Germany is an important development in the ability to bring cases against third-party States under the Convention.  

Nicaragua argues that by providing arms to Israel and by suspending the provision of funds to UNRWA,  Germany’s has failed to comply with its obligations under the Genocide Convention and international humanitarian law, including the 1949 Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols, and its intransgressible principles.   

Notably, Germany had increased its military exports to Israel nearly ten-fold from 2022 to 2023, with the vast majority of exports approved throughout October and November 2023.It has, according to Nicaragua, “supported Israel by providing it with all type of aid, including military aid that would be used to commit grave crimes under international law, such as anti-tank weapons, ammunition for machine guns, detonators” 

Nicaragua’s Ambassador to the Netherlands told the ICJ panel that “Germany is failing to honour its own obligation to prevent genocide or to ensure respect of international humanitarian law.” 

Germany argued that the vast majority of its arms exports to Israel were not combat equipment, but failed to establish whether or not German officials investigated the manner in which this equipment has been used subsequent to its sale and whether it has been used to facilitate potential violations of international law. 

Importantly, the Court recalled its orders in South Africa v Israel and reminded all States of their international obligations relating to the transfer of arms, in order to avoid potential violations of the Genocide Convention.  

The Court further expressed deep concern about the “catastrophic living conditions” of Palestinians in Gaza, in particular in view of the prolonged and widespread deprivation of food and other basic necessities to which they have been subjected.  

ICJP spokesperson Jonathan Purcell said: 

“If the Court rules in favour of Nicaragua’s arguments in the merits stage, there will be legal implications for political officials across the West. In Britain, not only has the government maintained its supply of arms to Israel throughout the past six months, but it has also failed to resume funding for UNRWA. The Court noted that no actual payments to UNRWA were halted since Germany’s decision to pause funding. This does not hold true in the UK’s case, which was expected to make payment at the end of this month. 

The International Centre of Justice for Palestinians (ICJP), along with Bindmans LLP, have called on the UK government to restore funding to the aid agency, with potential legal action for failure to do so, particularly in light of official findings of the Colonna report stating there has been ‘no evidence’ presented for allegations against UNRWA. 

This is untested legal ground for the boundaries of the Genocide Convention and third-party States’ responsibilities. As the case moves to the merits stage, officials worldwide should proceed with caution.” 


Notes to Editors 

  1. The International Centre of Justice for Palestinians is an independent organisation of lawyers, politicians and academics who support the rights of Palestinians and aim to protect their rights through the law.    
  1. For more information, or to arrange an interview with a spokesperson please contact the ICJP news desk at [email protected].  
  1. The International Court of Justice (ICJ), Alleged Breaches of Certain International Obligations in respect of the Occupied Palestinian Territory (Nicaragua v. Germany), through which verbatim transcripts of the April 8th & 9th hearings are available. 
  1. The International Court of Justice (ICJ), Application of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide in the Gaza Strip (South Africa v. Israel) 
  1. World Food Programme (18th March 2024), Famine imminent in northern Gaza, new report warns 
  1. ICJP calls on the UK government to restore funding to UNRWA, and Colonna report findings on allegations made against UNRWA.