Thursday, November 10, 2011

My Stance on Palestine UN Membership

Whereas it has become increasingly unlikely that Palestine would acquire full UN Membership - not only because the United States has undertaken to veto its application at the Security Council, but also due to the fact that a number of Security Council Members announced that they would abstain from voting – the focus should now move to the UN General Assembly (UNGA).
If Palestine were able to garner a resolution from UNGA recognizing it and upgrading its status to an observer non-Member State, this would not be superfluous – at least from a legal perspective. This could in effect pave the way for Palestine to join other international bodies, as this step would serve as a “certificate” of its existence as an independent and sovereign State. Palestinians would then have at hand a legal document to attach to their application for membership at international organizations.
However, we should bear in mind that some international organizations - such as the World Trade Organization (WTO) - require unanimity to grant membership. Again, politics has a role to play here.
On the other hand, it is worthwhile shedding light on two prominent international bodies, namely the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and the International Criminal Court (ICC). Concerning the ICJ, some Palestinian politicians and, unfortunately, legal scholars too argue that if Palestine’s status at UNGA were upgraded, that would automatically open the way for Palestine to turn to this Court. This actually falls short of accuracy.
First and foremost, all Members of the United Nations are in that capacity (or ipso facto) also States Parties to the Statute of the International Court of Justice. Given the fact that Palestine may not obtain UN  Membership, that in turn would result in not granting it the above-mentioned status with respect to ICJ Statute. However, Palestine could become a State Party to the Statute on conditions set out by UNGA, but – more importantly – upon the recommendation of the Security Council, where any of the five permanent members could veto ! Morever, Israel’s consent to submit to the jurisdiction of the ICJ is a condition sine qua non. Otherwise, the road to the ICJ would be blocked.
Regarding the ICC, Palestine is required to accede to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court in order to enable it to exercise jurisdiction over crimes committed on its territory. As such, the Palestinian Legislative Council must ratify the Rome Statute. Otherwise, Palestine could accept the jurisdiction of the ICC on an ad hoc basis (case by case). An UNGA resolution recognizing Palestine as an independent and sovereign State would enhance the latter’s position, as only States could follow any of the aforesaid tracks.
In conclusion, in order for Palestine to become a full UN Member State, the only option may be to keep on knocking the door of the Security Council, accompanied by intensive diplomacy.

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