The Speech of His Excellency the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates , Dr. Riad Malki, at the nineteenth Summit of the Heads of States and Governments of the Non-Aligned Movement, held in Ugan
Mr. President, Excellencies,
We meet at a pivotal moment in international politics and the stakes have seldom been higher. 106 days of mass slaughter, deliberate starvation, and systematic destruction of the Palestinian people at the hands of Israel, the illegal colonizer. Throughout these agonizing and horrifying days, the international system has consistently failed to assume its responsibilities under international law and the UN Charter. This epic failure has allowed the genocide in Gaza to continue and has undermined in strategic ways the very viability and relevance of the international system and international law.
In 100 days: Israel has killed, maimed, and buried under the rubble 100,000 Palestinians; most of them women and children. Israel killed 10,000 children. It destroyed over 70%of homes and buildings in Gaza and displaced nearly 2 million Palestinians, half of them children. Israel also killed over 115 journalists, nearly 350 health professionals, and hundreds of university professors, artists, engineers, and other professionals in the same period. In this period, Israel deliberately used starvation and deprivation of water as a weapon of war, and now 4 out of 5 of the hungriest people in the world are in Gaza; there are pockets of famine in Gaza; and children are dying of dehydration, malnutrition, and hypothermia. Meanwhile, Israeli occupation forces are also wreaking death, destruction, and brutality at unprecedented proportions in the occupied West Bank, including Jerusalem while the Israeli government is choking the Palestinian economy and forcibly displacing hundreds of Palestinian civilians. This, while Israeli forces abduct thousands of civilians in Gaza and the West Bank, torture, humiliate, and starve them, and subject them to unspeakable mental, physical, and even sexual abuse. These horrific abominations are done live with total impunity.
International paralysis and disfunction, brought on by hypocrisy, racism, and double standards, allowed Israel to create more destruction than the allied forces did in Dresden over 3 years; to kill more journalists than all those killed in World War II and other destructive wars that lasted years. In short, this failure has allowed Israel to commit genocide while also single-handedly unraveling 75 years of international law and human rights achievements. Such a brutal trend is a global threat to humanity that responsible states cannot allow to continue.
Rather than passively pontificating about our rules-based international system, South Africa had the moral clarity and courage to stand up for humanity and defend our endangered international system. First, it referred the situation to the ICC, supported by several members of the NAM and other groups. Still, there was no change. The genocide continued while some countries had the audacity to say that calling for a ceasefire was controversial.
This is the context of South Africa’s historic application to the International Court of Justice on Israel’s grave violations of the Genocide Convention. In this regard, allow me to reaffirm once more the State of Palestine’s unequivocal support of this historic action and our sincere gratitude to the people and government of South Africa, which we view as the ultimate act of active solidarity. This application is in line with the responsibility of all states under the Convention. But perhaps more importantly in our context today, South Africa’s application to the ICJ embodies the spirit and core values upon which the NAM was founded.
The Non-Aligned Movement was founded to protect members from the consequences of a bipolar international system through active and practical solidarity. We uplifted and defended one another. This allowed us to defend and realize the interests of our countries and peoples, including taking down the apartheid regime in South Africa.
At this time of instability, letdowns, and paralysis, our peoples and nations stand to lose the most if we do not return to these core values and their practical application. The challenges we confront individually and collectively in all spheres, including in development, the environmental crisis, social justice, and preserving territorial integrity, will become that much harder to overcome if we do not revert to active solidarity.
The slaughter in Gaza has dramatically and cruelly revealed a picture of callous indifference to the lives, rights, and dignity of peoples of the South we all wanted to believe was behind us. The same actors who stood by apartheid until the very last are actively supporting, defending, and supplying weapons to maintain the genocide in Gaza. They are distorting or altogether discarding the principles and articles of international law. They’re breaking the international system to defend Israel, their ally, and allow it to be above the law; to kill at will; to destroy, and to pronounce its genocidal intentions against the Palestinian people whom Israeli officials continue to call “human animals.”
Today, we have a historic responsibility to stop this fast devolution into a new normal of brutality, unchecked powers, and savagery.
We have to insist that in practice, international law must apply to all without exception – that all human life is treated with respect and dignity regardless of color, nationality, gender, or creed - Period. We must do that in action, not rhetorical statements and carefully crafted eloquence that entrenches injustices and produces no change. We must do this not just for Palestine but for humanity because that’s what is at stake.
The NAM can spearhead this urgent endeavor. It can embody the roaring cries for peace and human rights that have filled the streets of cities worldwide. We call on the movement to not only call for a ceasefire but to actively work to achieve it; to ensure universal respect for international law by sanctioning Israel for violating these international obligations without hesitation. We also urge all Members to stand by the Republic of South Africa’s application to the ICJ and proactively engage with the Court in the second phase with supportive submissions. Criminality and impunity must have consequences. Otherwise, supremacist exceptionalism will become law and that will be the detriment of all our nations.
The Palestinian people are enduring the most brutal episode in our recent history since the Nakba 76 years ago. Our fundamental rights to life, justice, dignity, and self-determination, are under genocidal assault. There are plenty of reasons to despair but that will never be a choice we adopt. We will not surrender to the monstrosities of colonial control, domination, and persecution by way of apartheid. This abomination must end, and it can, with your support and active solidarity. Stand with us to defend humanity and our collective right to a future of equality, justice, prosperity, and cooperation.
Thank you Mr. President