Genocide and Political Economy: Reconstructing The Relationship by Ntina Tzouvala

PLEASE TAKE ACTION RIGHT NOW AND SEND YOUR LETTER TO THE UN OFFICE OF THE SPECIAL ADVISER ON THE PREVENTION OF GENOCIDE AND THE INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT PROSECUTOR.

  1. [T]he crux of South Africa’s argument is built around Art. II para (c) of the Genocide Convention, which involves “deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.” Even though this provision still centres on physical destruction, it nevertheless enabled South Africa to advance two important arguments. First, South Africa’s submission was able to capture the totality of destruction carried out since the 7th of October. Instead of focusing on individual attacks and their immediate victims (as international humanitarian law does), Art. II para (c) allows for a comprehensive evaluation that captures the complex web of physical infrastructure, service provision, human relationships, natural environment, and tacit knowledge that make life possible at a very elementary level. It is, therefore, notable that the written submissions did not only focus on the deliberate starvation of Palestinians (even though this is, arguably, the most immediate danger), but cast a wider net that included destruction of homes, mass expulsion, deprivation of food through the blocking of aid and the destruction of food systems, deprivation of access to clean water, deprivation of access to adequate clothing and sanitation, destruction of medical facilities, and the killing of medical professionals. Importantly, the submission highlights the deliberate destruction of legal infrastructure, such as courts, as well as universities, archives, religious sites, public libraries, and of prominent community leaders as part of a broader pattern of physical destruction of the Palestinian people in Gaza. One of the main effects of the submission is to give legal expression to the complex structure and relationships of Gazan society. In contrast to other provisions of the Genocide Convention that focus on physical harm and death in a narrower way, examining a people’s “conditions of life” allows us to see them not as a one-dimensional victim of violence but as members of a rich, societal tapestry. Perhaps more accurately, this provision allows us to see Palestinians as victims of genocide precisely because it makes visible the complex realities of their society.

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