Phil Shiner, Supervisor of Public Interest Lawyers, United Kingdom, said during the panel discussion on the Seminar on Assistance to the Palestinian People that the Advisory Opinion was extremely helpful as it had identified three different pre-empting norms Israel had breached, explaining that peremptory norms or jus cogens norms were actions recognized in international law that no State was ever permitted to commit, such as genocide, slavery and denial of the right to self-determination.The opinion was crystal clear that Israel was in breach of international law and set out the obligations of third States.
He said that customary international law was part of the common law of the United Kingdom and part of the jurisdiction of other European States. He had unsuccessfully brought two cases to Court where the United Kingdom was in violation of international law through, for instance, permitting the sale of arms to Israel, which had then been used in the Gaza offensive, and suggested that civil society, should identify EU States where legal actions in that regard could be brought.
The EU-Israeli Association Agreement is also in breach of jus cogens norms, as the Agreement includes a provision which says that relations between parties must be based on respect for human rights and democratic principles. That clause requires parties to respect customary international law and the principles of the United Nations Charter which prohibits acquisition of territory by force. He was working on a court challenge in that regard and suggested that what was being done in the UK could be done elsewhere.Phil Sheiner Speech at UN 26.03.2010 from Kawther Salam on Vimeo.
Speech delivered by Phil Sheiner of Public Interest Lawyers in Birmingham, UK, at the UN Civic Society Meeting for Palestine held at the UN Vienna on 26.03.2010.