‘Broken’; a documentary on international law
By A. Ghahvie, GSD Master in International Relations student, class of 2018
In 2002, the Israeli government began the construction of a 700 km long wall in the West Bank, predominantly on the Palestinian side of the “Green Line”. Two years later, in 2004, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in an Advisory Opinion declared the construction of a wall within occupied Palestinian territory to be contrary to International Law, called upon Israel to desist, and to make reparations for all damages caused by its construction. The Advisory Opinion admonished all States to refuse recognition of the illegal situation, to render neither aid nor assistance in maintaining it, and to ensure compliance by Israel with International Humanitarian Law. Immediately, the General Assembly asked the UN Secretary General and the Member States to implement the Opinion.
Today, well over a decade later, Israel has neither desisted nor made reparations; on the contrary, the Wall is nearing completion, and most States have made little effort to secure compliance.
“BROKEN – A Palestinian Journey Through International Law” is documentary film about the legal implications of the 2004 International Court of Justice Advisory Opinion on Israel’s Wall in the West Bank and, more generally, about the application and enforcement of public international law in current armed conflicts. A timely topic bearing in mind Donald Trump’s provocative comments about his intent to build a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico, one of the almost 70 walls currently being built worldwide.
This feature-length documentary film (52’), to be released shortly, is directed by the Palestinian-American film director Mohammed Alatar (“The Iron Wall”, 2006 and “Jerusalem – the East side story”, 2009). ‘BROKEN’ is initiated and produced by Stefan Ziegler. In his explanation of the genesis of the film, the producer has stated: “As a delegate of the International Committee of the Red Cross, and later as head of the UN’s Barrier Monitoring Unit, and now as a film producer, I have been working on documenting the Wall’s impacts since 2005. I put my life’s blood into a job, which could only be done by an outsider. When my Unit was disbanded in May 2013 due to lack of funds and lack of will, my job came to a sudden end. I asked myself, could I blithely leave my work there and continue my career elsewhere. Could I morally live with myself if I simply dropped my work and moved on to another job? Could I ignore a subject which I knew in more depth than almost anyone else? Could I abandon all these countless people, and all the communities directly impacted by the Wall, without regret?” Stefan G. Ziegler, a humanitarian practitioner an associate professor at Geneva School of Diplomacy and International Relations teaches Humanitarian diplomacy, Advocacy, and conflict resolution among other subjects.
Key interviews with high profile international law experts have been filmed in Washington DC, New York, The Hague (including in the Peace Palace), Amman and Jerusalem. These interviews feature, inter alia, Judge Theodor Meron, former Legal Adviser to the Israeli Foreign Ministry; American-Jewish Judge Thomas Buergenthal, the only dissenting Judge on the panel who gave an exclusive interview about the Wall case on which he has never publicly spoken out; Judge Bruno Simma, outspoken German law expert; Awn Al- Khasawneh Judge and former Prime Minister of Jordan; Professor John Dugard, former UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights.
Beside the narrative of the story and harrowing scenes showing how the people’ everyday lives are implicated by the wall, I believe ‘BROKEN’ is a must for every student of international studies. I could not say it better than Professor Jean Ziegler, Vice-President of the Advisory Committee to the Human Rights Council of the UN (OHCHR) who has said: “Never have I heard judges speak so frankly about international law; this film will spark a cutting debate! It’s a must for any law library!”
For more information about the documentary ‘BROKEN’, please click here.
Inspired and produced by a former UN expert on monitoring the humanitarian impacts of the Wall in the West Bank, this compelling documentary traces the broken promises and a tangled web of law, politics and power. Travelling across three continents the filmmaker documents the consequences of the Wall on the people whose daily lives are affected, along with candid testimonies from internationally renowned law experts, ICJ judges, diplomats and the Israeli military officer who built the Wall.
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