Fiji human rights group condemns ‘troubling’ support for Israel at ICJ

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"All eyes on Rafah" . . . Fiji protesters show their solidarity for Palestine at a weekly #ThursdaysInBlack protest in Suva. Image: NGOCHR

Asia Pacific Report

A Fiji human rights advocacy coalition has condemned Fiji’s “profoundly troubling” stance as being one of only two countries supporting continued illegal occupation by Israel of the Palestinian territories.

The Fiji NGO Coalition on Human Rights (NGOCHR) said the occupation had been widely recognised by the international community — including the United Nations — as a “violation of international law” and an impediment to peace and self-determination of the Palestinian people”.

It called on Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka’s coalition government to withdraw support for Israel and back a “just and lasting peace in Palestine” in its oral submissions before the International Court of Justice hearings in The Hague next Monday.

Fiji is the only country apart, from the United States, backing Israel after its genocidal war against the Palestinians over the past four months. Fifty countries and three international organisations are supporting Palestine.

“By supporting the Israeli occupation, the Fijian government not only isolates itself from the international community but also from the very principles of justice and human dignity it purports to uphold,” said NGOCHR chair Shamima Ali.

“Such a position undermines Fiji’s reputation and casts a shadow over its commitment to the values enshrined in international law.

“The decision to support the genocidal, violent occupation raises serious questions about the processes and considerations behind Fiji’s foreign policy choices. It is imperative that the Fijian government demonstrates accountability and transparency in its decision-making.”

Transparency demanded
The coalition demanded that Prime Minister Rabuka, a former military officer who led Fiji’s first two military coups in 1987 and who is also Foreign Minister, publicly reveals who had drafted the submissions on Fiji and why the country was taking such a position.

In a statement, the coalition said that NGOCHR “and our allies, as staunch advocates for human rights and justice, expresses its profound dismay and unequivocal condemnation of the Fijian government’s decision to submit a written statement in support of the Israeli genocidal occupation of Palestine, including East Jerusalem.”

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) hearings this week on Israel's continued occupation of the Palestinian Territories
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) hearings this week on Israel’s continued occupation of the Palestinian Territories. This case is separate from the South African case before the ICJ accusing Israel of committing genocide in Gaza. Image: Al Jazeera/Creative Commons

“This submission, made to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the context of hearings on the legal consequences arising from the policies and practices of Israel in the Occupied Palestinian Territor[ies], places Fiji alongside the United States as one of the only two countries endorsing such a stance.”

In September 2023, said the statement, the Israeli occupation, which had been enduring and marked by efforts to annex Palestinian land both legally and in practice, had been unequivocally deemed unlawful by the United Nations Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem and Israel.

In October 2023, the commission concluded that the permanence of the occupation and Israel’s annexation measures rendered it unlawful — a stance echoed by leading human rights organisations worldwide, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

Fiji supporters protesting in solidarity with Palestine
Fiji supporters protesting in solidarity with Palestine. Image: NGOCHR

“The global consensus on this matter, formed by UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967 and the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing and a host of international human rights NGOs, underscores the severity of the occupation’s impact on the Palestinian people,” Ali’s statement said.

“These reports detail egregious violations of human rights and international law, painting a stark picture of the suffering endured by countless individuals under the occupation.

Serious questions raised
“The decision to support the genocidal, violent occupation raises serious questions about the processes and considerations behind Fiji’s foreign policy choices.

“It is imperative that the Fijian government demonstrates accountability and transparency in its decision-making.

“The public has a right to understand how such positions, which significantly impact [on] Fiji’s standing on the global stage and its moral compass, are determined. We call upon the government to disclose the rationale and any consultations or analyses that led to this stance.

“This call for clarity is not just about ensuring governmental transparency; it’s about reaffirming Fiji’s dedication to principles that respect human dignity and international law.

“Without this openness, the trust between the Fijian people and their government risks being eroded, especially on matters of international significance that reflect on the entire nation.”

The coalition called on the Fiji government to reconsider its position and to align its international engagements with the “principles of human dignity, justice, and respect for international law”.

‘Advocate for justice, rights’
“We urge the Fijian government to demonstrate its commitment to human rights and justice by advocating for the rights of all people, including the Palestinian people, to live in peace, security, and dignity.

“We stand in solidarity with those advocating for peaceful resolution of conflicts and upholding human rights worldwide. The NGOCHR will continue to monitor this situation closely and support Fiji in adopting a foreign policy that reflects the values of its people and the principles of international law.”

The Fiji NGO Coalition on Human Rights represents the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre (FWCC), Fiji Women’s Rights Movement (FWRM), Citizens Constitutional Forum (CCF), femLINKPacific, Social Empowerment and Education Programme (SEEP) and DIVA for Equality Fiji (DIVA).

The Pacific Network on Globalisation (PANG) is also an observer (PANG).

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