Up to now, the intergovernmental rulings of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) at The Hague have seemed obscure when compared to the indictments of Vladimir Putin and others at the International Criminal Court, which is just up the road. But Friday’s rulings that Israel must prevent genocidal actions and incitement to genocide in Gaza have changed that in ways that the country’s Western allies now need to grapple with.
There might be little immediate effect on the ground. Benjamin Netanyahu’s response was contemptuous. Like Putin before him, he dismissed the court, saying that “the mere claim that Israel is committing genocide” is “a disgrace that will not be erased for generations”.
The court’s enforcement powers might be limited but the rulings provide a challenge for Western governments, which (with a few notable exceptions) remain reluctant to criticise Israel’s response to the brutal Hamas attacks of 7 October. By a majority of 15 to two, judges (including the American president of the court) agreed that genocide is “plausible”. Despite this, the UK government insisted that the case, brought by South Africa, was “wrong and provocative”. Washington said it was “meritless”.
Over the weekend, nations including the US, the UK, Germany, Finland and Canada suspended funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, which provides humanitarian aid, after Israeli allegations that some of its staff had been involved in the 7 October attacks – a markedly more robust response than to the ICJ’s call for Israel to change its behaviour.
Western governments are caught between a rock and a diplomatic hard place by failing to acknowledge what most in the Global South see as double standards; they don’t want to criticise Israel. But if they refuse to back the UN court with its “unhelpful” rulings, this will eventually come back to bite them. Putin and others can quote critical soundbites back if and when there are demands for full compliance with ICJ rulings on the invasion of Ukraine, on genocide in Myanmar and other matters in the years to come. If justice is treated as an issue where partiality is allowed, we will all be worse off.
Steve Crawshaw is a journalist and human rights expert. For more opinion, analysis and insight, subscribe to Monocle today.
Giorgia Meloni’s two-day summit with more than 20 African leaders and EU officials concluded yesterday in Rome. Italy’s prime minister has made relations with the continent a focus of her country’s G7 presidency. Billed as “a bridge for common growth”, the meeting tackled everything from energy to food security and immigration. Attendees included the presidents of Kenya, the Republic of the Congo, Tunisia and Somalia, as well as Roberta Metsola, the president of the European Parliament, and Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission. Italy’s opposition has criticised the government’s plan for Africa as lacking in detail. The prime minister, however, has announced a series of African pilot projects and promised an initial €5.5bn in funding. With much of the world preoccupied with the unrest in the Middle East and this year’s EU and US elections, the crucial importance of Africa must not be neglected.
Anyone concerned about the health of bricks-and-mortar retail would have been heartened by the extraordinary scenes at the Starfield Suwon shopping centre in South Korea over its opening weekend. The Shinsegae Group’s fifth Starfield mall attracted more than 230,000 people on Friday and Saturday, forcing the local government to recommend that drivers in the area take alternative routes.
Crowds are flocking to see the spectacular library that extends from the fourth to the seventh floors. Also in the 331,000 sq m complex, there are multiple levels offering food, retail, fitness and entertainment. Notably, Seoul-based record shop Vinyl has opened a branch that stocks about 10,000 records. The Starfield is expected to provide a big boost for Suwon, a city of 1.2 million people that’s about 30km south of Seoul. It’s well worth swinging by on your next trip to the South Korean capital.
Bullfighting has resumed in Mexico City after the county’s Supreme Court overturned a local ruling that had sided with animal-rights groups and suspended events for almost two years. In response, activists took to the streets in the Mexican capital over the weekend to protest their return.
Despite the vocal opposition, the revival of bullfighting in the Plaza de Toros México, the world’s largest arena built for this purpose, has raised hopes among fans of the traditional entertainment, which has been part of Mexican culture since the 16th century. Enthusiasts argue that a ban would put thousands of jobs at risk in an industry that has historically generated about €370m a year. While the divisive spectacle might be an asset to Mexico’s economy, its effect on the country’s global reputation remains uncertain.
Brazilian jewellery designer Fernando Jorge is known for his sensual approach to materials and shapes. His new exhibition at The Salon, the luxury retail destination recently opened by Sotheby’s at its premises on London’s New Bond Street, runs until Friday. The travelling show began in New York; after London, it will move on to Dubai, then Zürich. The best part? If a particular piece catches your eye, you can buy it – just in time for Valentine’s Day.
How did this travelling exhibition with Sotheby’s come about?
In a very organic way. Not all jewellers resonate in the different regions where Sotheby’s has a presence. But I was one of the few whose work they felt would make sense in the Middle East, the US and Europe because there’s pre-existing interest in my work in these places. I came to the project with respect for what a collaboration with Sotheby’s would mean for a contemporary brand such as mine, in terms of recognition and the auction house’s network of specialists and clients.
How did you curate the jewellery pieces in the exhibition?
I focused not only on newness and my existing work but also on my best pieces from the past 10 years. Some are one-of-a-kind pieces with important stones; I had made others before with diamonds and white gold. This time I decided to revisit concepts that are very present in my work in a more artistic way, pushing the ideas further and being quite personal with it.
How do you choose the material combinations in your pieces?
Many of the materials might be considered unusual but have been used in jewellery before, just not in the same context. My intention is always to reflect where the materials come from; the fact that they were formed deep within the earth. That’s my connection with precious stones. A diamond’s appeal is that it is formed deep in the ground over billions of years. I combine it with a material such as amber, which is made from a tree’s resin that fossilised over millions of years. That’s a simple but very romantic story. sothebys.com
We sit down with acclaimed chef Daniel Humm, of Eleven Madison Park in New York, to hear more about his new food-and-art book, Eat More Plants, released with publishing icon Gerhard Steidl. Plus: we sample new Vietnamese opening Lo Quay Singapore and hit the slopes of St Moritz to find out how the hallowed resort tempts discerning palates in winter.