Challenging Injustice, Advancing Human Rights

The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee advances human rights through grassroots collaborations.

UUSC Response to International Court of Justice Decision Regarding Genocide in Palestine

UPDATE: March 1, 2024: In response to the United States’ vote against a ceasefire resolution on Tuesday, February 20, UUSC released the following response.

Once again, the United States is obstructing global collective human rights and international justice by opposing a resolution for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. Of the 15 members of the United Nations Security Council, the United States was the sole member to vote against a resolution calling for a ceasefire (while the United Kingdom abstained). The ICJ has ruled that there is plausible cause that Israel is committing acts of genocide in Gaza.

With more than 29,000 Gazans dead—and experts estimating upwards of 85,000 Gazans to be dead by the six-month mark—we must take collective action across the globe to stop the violence. The United States’ allegiance to geopolitics is clear over its commitments to basic human dignity and saving lives.

As the Rev. Dr. Sofía Betancourt, president of the Unitarian Universalist Association, urged, “We urge Unitarian Universalists to listen deeply, especially to the voices of Palestinians whose lives and communities have been the vast majority of casualties of this war, and to think critically about the ways the United States is complicit in enabling this disaster to continue.”

Silence is complicity, and we have an obligation as people of faith and people of conscience to serve as a strong moral counterweight—a voice rooted in reason, compassion, and humanity demanding an end to historic levels of violence and terror. The United States has no good reason to continue its silence. We demand that it live into its moral obligation and act quickly to end the senseless war happening in Gaza.

If you’d like to have a direct impact on this issue, please take action with the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights to demand that Congress support a ceasefire and end support of any continued violence.


Last week, a 17-judge panel with the the International Court of Justice, the world’s highest court, ruled that South Africa has a plausible case that Israel is committing genocide against the Palestinians, mandating preliminary courses of action, including that Israel take “all measures within its power” to prevent the commission of acts constituting genocide and take immediate steps to allow humanitarian aid to enter Gaza.The ICJ did not issue a determination as to whether genocide is happening, choosing to defer to a multi-year fact-finding and legal process.

ICJ chief judge Joan Donoghue stated that provisional measures against Israel were necessary because “the catastrophic humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip is at serious risk of deteriorating further before the court renders its final judgment.” 

The full proceedigs against Israel will take many years to complete. Disappointingly, the ruling fell short of calling for a ceasefire; but, the admonishment in the ruling makes clear that Israel is committing myriad human rights violations and atrocities. 

The people of Palestine are plagued with unconscionable conditions, from a lack of adequate healthcare to a paucity of clean water. The more than 2 million people who call Palestine home are at risk of starvation and roughly 700,000 people face the startling—and utterly preventable—reality of succumbing to illnesses without proper medical treatment.

The U.S. government—and more than a dozen other nations—holds a discernible level of complicity in the continued atrocities happening on the ground in Palestine through withholding funds from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), the world’s leading provider of resources to Gaza and the Palestinian people. 

Recommitting those funds would be the first step in addressing the atrocities—in tandem with continued investigations over the allegations that led to the original withdrawal of those funds. 

And immediately ending financial support for the Israeli military is a vital step toward ending the atrocities. A U.S. federal district court judge even noted that “Israel is plausibly engaging in genocide of the Palestinian people in Gaza and that the United States is providing ‘unflagging support’ for the massive attacks on Palestinian civilians in contravention of international law.” The use of U.S. taxpayer dollars to fund the Israeli military’s genocidal acts is morally repugnant and in conflict with the nation’s global commitments to human rights. 

Rather than continuing to fund and supply the Israeli military, the United States and the rest of the international community should provide financial support to the humanitarian relief agencies attempting to save lives on the ground in Palestine. 

The disproportionate amount of resources amassed by the Israeli government and the subsequent leveraging of those resources against the Palestinian people—who have no military, virtually no resources to defend themselves, and are cut off from life-saving resources—do in fact necessitate a global response. That response must be rooted in demanding a ceasefire and holding the Israeli government responsible for a number of human rights violations and genocidal acts. 

UUSC will continue monitoring the ICJ case and related developments, as the Court’s decisions and global cooperation with the process will necessarily impact other international efforts to hold war crimes perpetrators accountable for international crimes–including the ongoing atrocity crimes committed against ethnic and religious minorities in Burma (Myanmar) at the hands of the nation’s junta.