Dear Steve

CC: Chair of Board of Governors

We are writing to draw your attention to the implications of the 26 January ruling of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for The University of the West of England and to demand that The University of the West of England cut ties with Israeli and other institutions and corporations aiding and abetting Israel’s genocide in Gaza.

In a historic judgement, the ICJ ruled that “the Court considers that the plausible rights in question in these proceedings, namely the right of the Palestinian group in the Gaza Strip to be protected from acts of genocide and related prohibited acts identified in Article III of the Genocide Convention and the right of South Africa to seek Israel’s compliance with the latter’s obligations under the Convention, are of such a nature that prejudice to them is capable of causing irreparable harm.”

The present case was brought to the ICJ by South Africa, which has charged Israel with genocide on the basis of the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide.

In a series of Provisional Measures, the court has ordered Israel must take immediate steps to:

  • Prevent commission of acts falling under Article II of the Genocide Convention, including killing or causing serious bodily or mental harm to Palestinians.
  • Ensure that its military does not commit any of the aforementioned acts
  • Prevent and punish any incitement to genocide
  • Enable provision of urgently needed basic services and humanitarian assistance for Palestinians in Gaza
  • Prevent destruction of any evidence related to allegations of acts of genocide
  • Submit a report to the court on all measures taken to adhere to these orders within one month

On January 11, 2024, South Africa’s legal representative Adila Hassim showed that Israel perpetrates four of the five genocidal acts listed in the Convention through actions including:

  • the deliberate mass killing of Palestinians in Gaza
  • the direct and public incitement to genocide
  • the infliction of mental and bodily harm against Palestinians
  • the deliberate imposition of conditions that cannot sustain life and that are calculated to bring about the destruction of Gaza through its forced displacement of most of the population.
  • the destruction of Gaza’s healthcare system that renders life there unsustainable.
  • the blocking of life-saving treatment needed to deliver babies.

In response to South Africa’s case, the ICJ has now ruled it will pursue South Africa’s claim. This ruling received overwhelming support from the vast majority of 15 of the 17 ICJ judges. Even the judge appointed ad hoc by Israel voted in favour of two of the measures.

All states parties to the Genocide Convention, including the United Kingdom, have the duty to immediately implement the orders of the ICJ and prevent genocide.

This also means that third-state institutions that uphold the principles of international law are required to prevent complicity in acts of genocide, which has included the wanton and deliberate destruction of all universities and most schools throughout Gaza and the killing of thousands of students, hundreds of teachers and school administrators, and more than 94 university professors, including university deans and presidents, and leading scholars. 

It is a well-known fact that all Israeli universities and many Israeli corporations are aiding and abetting the Israeli government and military and are profiting from Israel’s illegal siege on Gaza and illegal occupation of Palestinian Territories, and are thus complicit in genocide.

As South Africa’s case develops, many public sector bodies, private corporations, and charities may find themselves at risk of being charged with complicity in the genocidal actions of which Israel is accused. In order to avoid this, British higher education institutions must cut ties with institutions and corporations aiding and abetting Israel’s genocide in Gaza. They are bound by the broad remit of the ruling and order by the ICJ, the world’s highest judicial authority on international law.

Looking at UWE within this context, in the last year, there have been at least two career fairs promoting STEM careers within complicit companies aimed at UWE students and during school children visits and events.

As workers representing all APT&C staff at the University of the West of England, we ask you to take heed of the ICJ’s ruling and to take action by:

  1. Suspending all formal and informal ties with Israeli higher education institutions, including research collaborations, staff and student visits/exchange programmes;
  2. Suspending all formal and informal ties with, and divest from, Israeli corporations and other corporations complicit in Israel’s actions in the Gaza Strip;
  3. Divestment from Israeli organizations and other organizations complicit in Israel’s actions in the Gaza Strip;
  4. Providing resources towards building relations with Palestinian higher education institutions that have been destroyed by the Israeli state
  5. Providing scholarships for Palestinian students and fellowships for faculty members who have lost their universities and livelihoods.

It is the duty of UK higher education institutions to stop their plausible complicity in genocide by immediately incorporating the ICJ’s binding Provisional Measures within their university policies.

It is extremely important that you take this action not only on moral grounds but also to protect the institution from future litigation and severe reputational damage.

We therefore request an overview of the necessary steps taken by the institution in line with the five demands listed above by the end of February 2024.

Yours sincerely

Tom Finn                                            Samia Chowdhury
Branch Chair                                     Branch International Relations Officer