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On Monday April 8, Nicaragua filed a case against Germany at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) accusing it of “facilitating the commission of genocide” against Palestinians through its military and political support for Israel.

But Germany is not the only country that is supporting Israel both politically and militarily. For example, the following countries among others also support Israel:

  • United States
  • United Kingdom
  • Australia
  • Netherlands
  • France

The United States is the most significant in its support for Israel politically and militarily, so why did Nicaragua specifically target Germany in its case at the ICJ and not all or a number of its primary supporters?

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  • Did Nicaragua maybe say something about their reasons for only filing against Germany? Apr 20 at 8:15

4 Answers 4

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Unclear why the US was left out, but the BBC says Germany took the #2 spot in weapon sales to Israel in 2023, with about 1/3 of the value -- around $325 million. (I'm guessing that doesn't include outright US military aid. The proportion might be even less if that's included.)

I suspect the reason why a case was not filed against the US is that might be dismissed more quickly because the US has entered a reservation on the genocide convention:

Reservations: "(1) That with reference to article IX of the Convention, be fore any dispute to which the United States is a party may be submitted to the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice under this article, the specific consent of the United States is required in each case.

Given that these ICJ cases take years and years to reach any conclusion, one might suspect that simply filing the case was intended to pressure Germany somehow, while the US was perhaps deemed less susceptible to this kind of pressure, especially if the ICJ throws out the case early. (Although maybe Nicaragua still intends to file a case against the US at a later date, IDK. Some states, including e.g. the UK, have rejected the US reservation to the genocide convention on article IX -- same source.)

N.B. the NYT agrees with hunch:

Lawyers say that Germany is an easier target for a suit than is the United States. Germany has granted full jurisdiction to the International Court of Justice. But the United States denies its jurisdiction, except in cases where Washington explicitly gives its consent.

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  • 3
    I would guess that if there if Germany is found guilty, then a case against the USA would be stronger. I did read that in the Scottsboro trials the accused who were more likely to be convicted (older, perhaps previous criminal records) were judged first to make it easier to get the rest of convictions.
    – SJuan76
    Apr 9 at 18:50
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    @JonathanReez the issue would be the findings of the case. Even if Germany does not comply, it would have been guilty so it could make it easier to find the USA also guilty.
    – SJuan76
    Apr 9 at 18:55
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    @SJuan76: if moral/declaratory judgement is all that is sought, a guilty verding against Germany would doubly condemn the US by implication, without any trial involving the latter. (Of course, by that I'm not saying that the outcome is terribly likely.) Apr 9 at 19:00
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    If Germany has to rein in its assistance, there's a good chance that will also affect the EU, given both its importance and the fact that they tend to be the most supportive of Israel. So not a bad bet. What internal domestic laws Germany has on the books pertaining to war may also provide leverage, as well as domestic sentiment. Apr 9 at 23:50
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    "the United States denies (ICJ) jurisdiction". That was exactly my first thought regarding "why not the US".
    – RonJohn
    Apr 10 at 22:48
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To file a case against Germany is the best way to get some publicity - with low possible impact, with low or no risk - and nearly no cost.

Although the US help for Israel was and is bigger, a case would be most likely senseless since the USA does not accept the international court without approval as stated here already.

And there are only very few Nicaraguans in Germany, but much more in the USA, who send money to Nicaragua, which is urgently needed.

The USA could easily cut this money transfer.

Germany has a left government which is easily to convince to raise the funds (Entwicklungshilfe) for poor countries with left governments like Nicaragua, even if they file a case against Germany.

As strange as it may sound, many German politicians in high ranks have even anti-German mindsets, like Mr. Habeck, the minister for economics ("Patriotismus, Vaterlandsliebe also, fand ich stets zum Kotzen. Ich wusste mit Deutschland nichts anzufangen und weiß es bis heute nicht.", could be translated to something like "I hate patriotism, I don't care about Germany", welt.de/politik/deutschland/article201835458/Paul-Ziemiak-kritisiert-Robert-Habeck-in-Debatte-um-Vaterlandsliebe.html).

There is a video clip from 2013 showing the former Kanzlerin Merkel (raised in the former communist state East Germany) grabbing and disposing off a German flag held by a colleague standing next to her at an official party meeting (youtube.com/watch?v=siqHZsMMwkM).

The disrespect for the own country is likely the highest among the mentioned countries in the question like USA, UK, France etc.

The risk of any tit-for-tat response, payback seems to be the lowest.

Although Germany does not accept the case, there is a real chance that Nicaragua will even benefit from that kind of marketing, f.e. support from the Arab world or even from Germany itself.

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    When posting a link, please try to format it as a link, e.g. [Politics SE](politics.stackexchange.com) or paste the link in full. It's unhelpful to make the link unclickable by writing out the dot in text.
    – JJJ
    Apr 12 at 4:44
  • @JJJ Had problems with those links, just now I changed "DOT" back to "."
    – xeeka
    Apr 12 at 10:29
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    The entire last section of this answer is not relevant to the question and putting forward your own opinions, so I've removed it.
    – Ben Cohen
    Apr 13 at 10:21
  • @BenCohen The absurdity of the case itself is not off topic. Germany may have been chosen, because it is a very easy and soft "target", where even this absurd case would have a chance of some discussions and reactions by German politicians and the media. And of course all I post - not only parts - are my opinion. But this opinion is always based on facts like the important one, that the ratio of dead Hamas fighters to dead civilians is similar to other battles against terrorists in ME like in Mossul and Aleppo. I posted the links to the Wikipedia articles. Please undelete the part.
    – xeeka
    Apr 13 at 10:38
  • @xeeka, whether you think the case is absurd or not is certainly not relevant to the question "why was the case brought against Germany and not some other country". Furthermore, even the part of the answer that remain is of very dubious quality.
    – Ben Cohen
    Apr 14 at 9:03
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The United States has imposed numerous targeted sanctions, including asset blocking sanctions and visa restrictions, on members of the Nicaraguan government, legislature, and judiciary, along with others determined to be responsible for undermining democracy and threatening stability in Nicaragua.

https://crsreports.congress.gov/product/pdf/IF/IF12247

I am guessing Nicaragua fear more sanctions from the U.S. if they were to file a case against the U.S. at the ICJ. Germany has a lot less power than the U.S. to impose retaliatory sanctions against Nicaragua since it's within the EU it does have limited powers to impose sanctions on its own.

Germany applies all sanctions imposed by the United Nations Security Council (“UNSC”) (“UN Sanctions”) and, as a European Union (“EU”) Member State, all sanctions imposed by the EU (“EU Sanctions”).

Germany does not unilaterally impose sanctions. However, Germany maintains a discrete national export control regime that – in very limited circumstances – is used to impose unilateral export control measures that are sometimes referred to as “German Sanctions” externally. For details, please refer to question 2.10 below.

https://iclg.com/practice-areas/sanctions/germany

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In addition to the association with the Holocaust and the high amount of weapons exports, Germany has been taking harsh actions against domestic citizens who oppose Israel. While in other countries there might be debate about the events unfolding in Gaza, in Germany this is not permitted.

Very recently (i.e. two days ago) a group called "Jewish Voice for a Just Peace in the Middle East" had their bank account seized in an attempt at prevent them from holding a "Palestine Congress" meeting in Berlin. The meeting proceeded anyway, with about 250 people being surrounded by about 2500 police officers who, after only two hours, cut the electricity, stormed inside, wrestled with the organizers, arrested some and took their equipment.

So which crime was broken? Allegedly, a person who was banned from Germany appeared on a live stream. The moment he was shown, the police raided the event because "he might say something anti-Semitic." The speech is available online and is not anti-Semitic. He was not banned before the conference began, and police his speech was not displayed to anyone, including the police, before they concluded it might be anti-semitic. https://diem25.org/germany-bans-yanis-varoufakis-from-entering-the-country/

This follows a pattern of similar repression, starting with a months-long complete ban on public support for Palestine. No other Western country has been taking domestic action like this at this time.

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