The Human Rights Institute of the IBA condemns the indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks on Gaza and reiterates the call for an immediate ceasefire

Friday 22 December 2023

After closely monitoring the war unfolding in Gaza, in November 2023 the Human Rights Institute of the International Bar Association (IBAHRI) issued a statement calling for an immediate ceasefire. Our statement was premised on the well-established principles of international law of proportionality and distinction, rooted in the imperative that all parties to the conflict must take all measures necessary to protect human life and uphold human dignity, even in war.

We have continued to monitor the alarmingly devastating violence and enormous civilian death toll in Gaza, and across the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). The IBAHRI strongly condemns Israel’s wholly disproportionate and indiscriminate attacks on Gaza as response to the 7 October 2023 attacks by Hamas on Israel – condemned in an earlier statement.

We add our voice to the urgent, global call for an immediate ceasefire, per the latest Resolution titled ‘Protection of civilians and upholding legal and humanitarian obligations’ (document A/ES-10/L.27) of the United Nations General Assembly (adopted on 11 December 2023) and support its other calls for all remaining hostages to be immediately and unconditionally released, and for humanitarian access into Gaza be ensured. Let us be clear that Hamas also bears responsibility for the continued suffering of the Palestinian people. They could immediately release the hostages they continue to hold in tunnels below ground.

According to reports, approximately 20,000 civilians have been killed in Gaza since 7 October 2023, many of whom are the elderly, women and children. Significant loss of life has also been reported in the West Bank and Israel. Save the Children reports that the number of children killed in Gaza now surpasses the annual number of children killed across all of the world's conflict zones since 2019. On 7 November 2023, the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres warned that Gaza was fast becoming ‘a graveyard for children’.

Humanitarian aid has been weaponised in the Gaza Strip, with Israeli forces deliberately blocking the delivery of water, food, fuel and medicine for over two months. Many have stated that the deliberate starvation of civilians ‘is a method of warfare’ after high-ranking Israeli officials, including the Defence Minister, made a public statement ordering a ‘complete siege on the Gaza Strip’ to deprive civilians in Gaza of basic necessities.

In early December, thousands of Gazan children under the age of five were reported to be suffering from severe wasting, the most pernicious form of child malnutrition requiring urgent medical treatment to avoid death. The IBAHRI reiterates its call for civilians in Gaza – including children – many of whom have survived intense bombardment and ground operations, to be granted urgent access to lifesaving humanitarian aid. The intentional starvation of civilians in conflict is prohibited under international humanitarian law and can amount to a war crime under international criminal law.

The catastrophic and severe siege of the Gaza Strip has led to recent warnings, including by a group of 40 independent United Nations human rights experts that, ‘grave violations committed by Israel against Palestinians in the aftermath of 7 October 2023, particularly in Gaza, point to a genocide in the making’. The UN Experts further stressed that the ‘failure to urgently implement a ceasefire risks this situation spiralling towards a genocide conducted with 21st century means and methods of warfare’ and called on UN Member States and the international community to consider their ‘obligation to prevent atrocity crimes, including genocide’ and to ‘immediately consider all diplomatic, political and economic measures to that end’.

As the world marks the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) this month, the IBAHRI urges the Government of Israel, and those states who continue to support Israel's siege of Gaza, to adhere to its international legal obligations and implement an immediate and unconditional ceasefire. The UDHR, created in the aftermath of the Second World War, calls for the respect of every human life. It protects our common humanity and the foundational human rights values that unite us.

We urge all states to remain steadfast in their commitment to maintaining the international rules-based order, especially in these times of crisis.

Anne Ramberg Chair, Human Rights Institute of the International Bar Association

Baroness Helena Kennedy KC Director, Human Rights Institute of the International Bar Association



Notes to the Editor 

  1. The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI), established in 1995 under Founding Honorary President Nelson Mandela, is an autonomous and financially independent entity, working to promote, protect and enforce human rights under a just rule of law, and to preserve the independence of the judiciary and the legal profession worldwide.
  2. Find the IBAHRI on social media here:

Website link for this news release:

Short link: www.tinyurl.com/5c2h8v4p

Full link: www.ibanet.org/The-Human-Rights-Institute-of-the-IBA-condemns-the-indiscriminate-and-disproportionate-attacks-on-Gaza-and-reiterates-the-call-for-an-immediate-ceasefire