New York, NY, December 17, 2014 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) sharply criticized the growing politicization of international humanitarian law by a number of countries who are parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention, who issued a declaration today on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The declaration entails the application of international humanitarian law in the Palestinian territories. Meetings on the same narrow topic were also held in 1999 and 2001.
Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, issued the following statement:
Israel is the only state targeted for criticism at such conferences of signatories to the Fourth Geneva Convention. Those who truly care about international humanitarian law should be deeply worried that the Fourth Geneva Convention will end up with the same discredited reputation as the U.N. Human Rights Council, known more for its Israel-bashing than the lofty principles it is supposed to uphold.
The United States and Canada were laudably vocal in their opposition to this politicized conference, and many other states voted with their feet. Almost a third of states with ambassadors in Geneva chose not to attend, similar to the number who stayed away from the previous anti-Israel conference in 2001.
Switzerland also betrayed its responsibility as depositary of the Geneva Conventions by convening this conference to condemn Israel in clear contradiction to the Geneva Conventions themselves. Had Switzerland stood up to the political pressure from countries unfriendly to Israel and refused to convene the conference, then they would have been promoting international humanitarian law and not collaborating in subverting it.
In 1977, 177 states signed a Protocol to the Geneva Conventions and they foresaw such politicization. Article 7 of that Protocol says meetings of the High Contracting Parties should be convened ‘to consider general problems concerning the Application of the Conventions.’ The authoritative commentary on the 1977 Protocol conference by the International Committee of the Red Cross states, “With the expression ‘general problems,’ the Conference wished to exclude the discussion of specific situations.” It also notes, “there was a specific vote to include the word ‘general’.”