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Kenya Warns South Africa For Filing Case Against Israel

Kenya Warns South Africa For Filing Case Against Israel

Principal Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Korir Sing’oei, has cautioned South Africa that the complexity of the matter could lead to the failure of its genocide case against Israel at the Hague.

In late December 2023, South Africa initiated legal proceedings at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague, alleging that Israel committed genocide during its conflict in Gaza, resulting in the death of over 23,000 Palestinians. The lawsuit aims to prompt the ICJ to order Israel to halt its military actions in Gaza without delay.

Sing’oei praised South Africa’s endeavors to address the three-month-long conflict, acknowledging their efforts. Nevertheless, he clarified that the ongoing legal proceedings might not lead to a resolution in this matter that is currently under consideration by the court.

In elucidating Kenya’s position on the matter, the Permanent Secretary also emphasized the nation’s commitment to collaborating with the United Nations in pursuing a more enduring solution. The PS explicitly stated that while he acknowledges South Africa’s choice, his stance is that Kenya might distinctly approach the issue.

Foreign Affairs Korir Sing’oei during a panel discussion at the Africa Now conference in Kampala, Uganda on March 12, 2019.

“At a personal level, I appreciate the approach by South Africa and laud its leadership. However, a complex issue of this magnitude, will certainly not find resolution through judicialization.

“Consequently, we (Kenya) will continue to work through the political organs of the United Nations to seek more sustainable remedies,” he explained.

Sing’oei’s reaction generated varied responses among a segment of influential Kenyans, leading to skepticism about the government’s actions and prompting inquiries about alternative measures to address the Gaza conflict.

“Ahh Bwana P.S., but the International Court of Justice is the main judicial body of the United Nations. Which other UN body are you referring to, that can handle this complex issue? The Occupier is on record for having violated many International Norms and Standards,” Bosire Wairimu, the founding Executive Director of the Africa Centre for Health Systems and Gender Justice, wondered.

Kenya’s stance regarding South Africa’s legal action against Israel had been a subject of uncertainty, with various nations expressing either support or disapproval of the lawsuit. Both Israel and the United States dismissed the accusations, deeming them unfounded.

Some asserted that aligning with South Africa would place Kenya in a favorable position among nations striving to uphold international law. Conversely, some suggested that Kenya might oppose South Africa’s decision and support Israel, similar to the stance taken by Western countries.


The reactions were prompted by South Africa’s initial statements in the proceedings, alleging that Israel had breached the 1948 United Nations’ Genocide Convention, to which both countries are parties.

“No armed attack on a state territory, no matter how serious can provide justification for or defend breaches of the convention. Israel’s response to the October 7 attack has crossed this line and given rise to the breaches of the convention,” South Africa’s Justice Minister Ronald Lamola stated.

“Like what, Dr. Singoei Korir? Mention one little “political effort” Kenya has initiated at the UN to address the unfolding genocide. Just one. It would have cost Kenya nothing to stand in solidarity with South Africa the way many countries have done. It would have placed Kenya in good standing with countries that are attempting to uphold international law and international humanitarian law,” lawyer Miguna Miguna stated.

President William Ruto shakes hands with Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the latter’s office in Jerusalem, Israel, on May 9, 2023.

“Kenya has no vote at the UN Security Council and cannot influence any significant political decisions taken there. However, we can have our voices heard at the ICJ, no matter how limited its impact,” he added.

Some other advocates asserted that the legal action taken by South Africa against Israel might ultimately strengthen the genocide convention, symbolizing the global commitment to collaborate to thwart and penalize the atrocity of genocide.

The effectiveness of the convention was initially examined in 2019 when Gambia brought a lawsuit to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), alleging that Myanmar had committed genocide against the Rohingya population. The Rohingya, predominantly followers of the Islamic faith, form the majority of this ethnic group residing in the Asian nation.

In 2021, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) issued an order to the Myanmar Junta, instructing them to cease the reported persecution of the Rohingya and refrain from interfering with evidence. In the subsequent year, ICJ judges sided with Gambia, asserting that the country had a responsibility, as an individual state, to advocate for the international community in the matter.

Kenya Warns South Africa For Filing Case Against Israel