International Law

Amal Clooney was among the experts who advised on the International Criminal Court arrest warrants

  • Print

Amal Clooney

Amal Clooney, a British-Lebanese lawyer, activist, and philanthropist who specializes in international law and human rights, speaks at the High-Level Dialogue on the Declaration Against Arbitrary Detention in State-to-State Relations, in New York, Sept. 20, 2023, on the sidelines of the 78th United Nations General Assembly. (Timothy A. Clary/Pool Photo via AP)

Amal Clooney on Monday said she helped weigh the evidence that led to the International Criminal Court’s decision to seek arrest warrants for Israeli and Hamas leaders on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The high-profile British human rights lawyer has frequently appeared before the global tribunal and the International Court of Justice in The Hague, and has represented hundreds of victims of violence and mass atrocities.

Clooney said she was approached by the ICC prosecutor more than four months ago to join a panel of legal and academic experts evaluating evidence of suspected war crimes and crimes against humanity in Israel and Gaza. She had been criticized on social media for not speaking out on the war in Gaza.

“As a human rights lawyer, I will never accept that one child’s life has less value than another’s. I do not accept that any conflict should be beyond the reach of the law, nor that any perpetrator should be above the law,” Clooney said in a statement posted on the website of the Clooney Foundation for Justice, which she established with her husband, actor George Clooney.

She added: “Despite our diverse personal backgrounds, our legal findings are unanimous. We have unanimously determined that the Court has jurisdiction over crimes committed in Palestine and by Palestinian nationals.”

The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court said on May 20 he’s seeking arrest warrants for top Israeli and Hamas leaders.(c) 2024 , The Washington Post

The ICC is the only permanent international court that wields power to prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

In an op-ed in the Financial Times on Monday, the expert panel of international lawyers said they “felt compelled to assist” the ICC prosecutor, Karim Khan, because Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack in Israel and Israel’s military response in Gaza had “tested the system of international law to its limits.”

Khan is seeking to charge senior figures in the Israel-Gaza conflict, including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Hamas leader Yehiya Sinwar.

Netanyahu called the ICC’s decision a “travesty of justice” and said it would not stop Israel “from waging our just war against Hamas,” while President Biden described the warrant applications as “outrageous.”

The United States and Israel are not signatories to the international treaty that created the ICC and have argued that the court does not have jurisdiction. Khan said that his office was using its jurisdiction in the Palestinian territories and that the scope of this jurisdiction extended to Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

“The law that protects civilians in war was developed more than 100 years ago and it applies in every country in the world regardless of the reasons for a conflict,” Clooney said.

The ABA in 2018 announced it would team up with the Clooney Foundation for Justice and Columbia Law School to “monitor trials around the world that pose a high risk of human rights violations.” A year later, the partnership led to a report saying that a mass trial in Equatorial Guinea that produced 112 convictions was marred by “egregious procedural irregularities.”

Louisa Lovelock contributed to this report.

Give us feedback, share a story tip or update, or report an error.