Top Lawyer Examines International Legal Response to the War on Gaza

Room full of people with International Lawyer Tamara Essayad talking to Khaled AL-Hroub, Northwestern Qatar

Speaking at the most recent Palestine Speaker Series event at GU-Q, international lawyer and negotiator Tamara Essayyad emphasized the role of international legal systems in the pursuit of peace where negotiations and diplomacy fall short.

In conversation with Professor of Middle Eastern Studies and Arab Media Studies at Northwestern University in Qatar Khaled AL-Hroub, Essayyad highlighted the importance of international legal cases that keep international scrutiny on the events taking place in Palestine.

“The legal processes take a very long time, but I think are the only way forward,” said Essayyad, as she discussed the next steps after the International Court of Justice (ICJ) interim ruling in the case brought by South Africa. 

With a wealth of experience from her role as Senior Legal Adviser to the United Nations, she shared first-hand insights and a historical perspective on the limitations of negotiations in brokering viable peace options. She touched on the current, unsuccessful US-led shuttle diplomacy attempts, alongside Qatar’s mediation efforts. 

The international court process is a necessary first step to bring an end to the suffering of the Palestinian people, said Essayad. “An internationalization process provides a legal basis for other states to take up the mantle…It’s up to states individually to move the dial on what they do following the ICJ’s interim decision.” 

The ramifications of the possibility of a final decision in favor of Palestine are already being felt, pointed out Essayad, with countries calling in their experts to see if the ICJ could also hold them accountable for their support of Israel.  “Let’s say the final decision is in favor of Palestine. Now, you have a situation where states are obligated not to engage…whether it’s sanctions, divestment, diplomatic agreements, or bilateral multilateral economic agreements.”

Essayyad is currently a Visiting Fellow at GU-Q and her course Negotiating Freedom: Palestinian-Israeli Negotiations and the Endgame explores past and present challenges to Palestinian-Israeli peace and negotiation efforts.