In July and August, hostilities in the Gaza Strip left 2,131 Palestinians and 71 Israelis dead, including 501 Palestinian children and one Israeli child. Of Gaza’s 1.8 million residents, 475,000 are living in temporary shelters or with other families because their homes have been severely damaged. The extent of destruction has raised questions around culpability for war crimes on all sides of the conflict. International organizations including the United Nations Human Rights Council, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have called for independent investigation. At the end of 2014, Palestine deposited a 12(3) application to the ICC for ad-hoc jurisdiction as well as acceded to the Rome Statute, thus granting the International Criminal Court the authority to investigate war crimes conducted in Palestinian territory. Such an investigation would bring both Israel and Palestine under scrutiny for events from this summer and as far back as 2012, and possibly to 2002 when the ICC was first formed to investigate war crimes. This is the third large scale military offensive against the besieged coastal enclave since Israel’s unilateral disengagement in 2005. Given the shortcomings of the ceasefire on August 26, 2014, another attack is seemingly inevitable. How is such civilian carnage possible notwithstanding the humanitarian and human rights legal regimes established to reduce civilian suffering? And what are the prospects for accountability under international criminal law and beyond? This lecture will explore these questions and specifically the prospects for accountability at the ICC.
Noura Erakat is a human rights attorney, activist, and an Assistant Professor at George Mason University. Her scholarship investigates the laws of war, human rights, refugee law, and national security. She is a Co-Editor of Jadaliyya, an electronic magazine that leverages scholarly expertise and local knowledge on the Middle East. She has taught International Human Rights Law and the Middle East at Georgetown University since Spring 2009 and before beginning at George Mason University, she was a Freedman Teaching Fellow at Temple University, Beasley School of Law. She has served as Legal Counsel for a Congressional Subcommittee in the House of Representatives, chaired by Congressman Dennis J. Kucinich. She helped to initiate and organize several national formations including Arab Women Arising for Justice (AMWAJ) and the U.S. Palestinian Community Network (USPCN). While an undergraduate student at UC Berkeley, Noura helped launch the first university divestment campaign at UC Berkeley in 2001 and upon graduating from Berkeley Law School, she helped seed BDS campaigns throughout the country uas the National Organizer with the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation. There, she also helped initiate federal lawsuits in the U.S. against Israeli officials in for war crimes and crimes against humanity. She has lived and worked throughout the Middle East including as part of a legal fact-finding delegation to the Gaza Strip in the aftermath of Israel’s Winter 2008/09 onslaught and spent the Spring 2010 academic semester in Beirut, Lebanon as a Visiting Scholar at the American University in Beirut. Noura has appeared on PBS News Hour, BBC World Service, NPR’s “To The Point,” MSNBC's "Up With Chris Hayes," Fox’s “The O’ Reilly Factor,” NBC’s “Politically Incorrect,” Democracy Now, and Al-Jazeera Arabic and English. Her non-scholarly publications have appeared in the New York Times, USA Today, the Los Angeles Review of Books, The Nation, Huffington Post, and Foreign Policy among others. Most recently, she co-published an anthology entitled Aborted State? The UN Initiative and New Palestinian Junctures.
This event is co-sponsored by the Sohaib and Sara Abbasi Program in Islamic Studies.