Statement by Minister Joly on South Africa’s case against Israel at the International Court of Justice


January 12, 2024 - Ottawa, Ontario - Global Affairs Canada

The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Foreign Affairs today issued the following statement:

“Canada was a founding voice and remains a strong proponent of the International Court of Justice’s (ICJ) independence and its critical role in the peaceful settlements of disputes between countries. The ICJ is also a key participant in upholding the international rules-based order.

“Canada continues to strongly and unequivocally condemn Hamas’ terrorist attack on Israel. Hamas is a listed terrorist entity that continues to explicitly call for the elimination of Jews and the destruction of the state of Israel. Israel has the right to exist and to defend itself from terrorist attacks in accordance with international law. In defending itself, Israel must respect international humanitarian law.

“Canada remains deeply concerned by the scale of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and ongoing risks to all Palestinian civilians. Safe and unimpeded humanitarian access must be increased and sustained. Canada supports urgent international efforts towards a sustainable ceasefire. This cannot be one-sided. Hamas must release all hostages, stop using Palestinian civilians as human shields, and lay down its arms. 

“Canada’s unwavering support for international law and the ICJ does not mean we accept the premise of the case brought by South Africa. We will follow the proceedings of South Africa’s case at the International Court of Justice very closely.

“Under the UN’s 1948 Genocide Convention, the crime of genocide requires the intention to destroy or partly destroy a group because of their nationality, ethnicity, race or religion. Meeting this high threshold requires compelling evidence.

“We must ensure that the procedural steps in this case are not used to foster Antisemitism and targeting of Jewish neighbourhoods, businesses, and individuals. At the same time, we will continue to stand against Islamophobia and anti-Arab sentiment.

“Canada remains firmly committed to combatting prejudice, hatred, and violent extremism and continues to call for calm, peace and understanding.”


Isabella Orozco-Madison
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Media Relations Office
Global Affairs Canada
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