Geneva - The Danish government refuses to face or even acknowledge the risk that Israel is committing a genocide against the Palestinians in Gaza, despite the landmark ruling from the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and numerous statements of recognition from international institutions including the United Nations, prominent lawyers, and nongovernmental organisations.

citizens’ proposal signed by 53,188 Danes asks their government to respect and fulfill its international obligations according to the Genocide Convention, to which Denmark is a State Party since 2005. According to these obligations, Denmark is required not only to stop genocide, but also to prevent it.

Circulation of the citizens’ petition started on 16 January 2024 andended on 4 June, after it garnered more than 50,000 signatures, obliging the parliament to consider it. Yet during the debate at the Folketing, it quickly became clear that the government, together with the right wing, intended to tear down the citizens’ proposal.

The first to speak was Foreign Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen, who declared that the government does not have the prerequisitesto make concrete legal assessments of whether each of Israel’s military actions is in accordance with international law, but said that in the past it had not been that complex.

In November 2023, as the strictly besieged Gaza Strip was already being bombed heavily, Denmark chose to intervene in a case brought by The Gambia against Myanmar at the ICJ in The Hague. In a press release about Denmark’s active involvement in the legal proceedings regarding Myanmar's genocide of the Rohingya minority, it was Rasmussen who stated that “all states in the world have an obligation to prevent and fight genocide”.

Yet, with over 35,000 Palestinians killed in Gaza, including more than 13,000 children, and dozens of UN experts raising the alarmon the failure of the international system to mobilise to prevent genocide, Rasmussen has consistently refused to use the word “genocide”, preferring the term “humanitarian disaster” instead.

A 25-page report issued in March by the UN Special Rapporteur on Occupied Palestinian Territories Francesca Albanese and titled “Anatomy of a Genocide” concludes that there are “reasonable grounds to believe” that the threshold of the crime of genocide has been met. Meanwhile, the ICJ in January 2024 found that “at least some of the rights claimed by South Africa and for which it is seeking protection are plausible”, including “the right of the Palestinians in Gaza to be protected from acts of genocide”.

The Danish citizens’ proposal does not, in fact, even take a position on whether or not there is a genocide occurring in the Gaza Strip. Rather, it acknowledges that there is a risk; yet on 4 June, it received the green light from just 12 out of 106 members of parliament.

Notably, the Danish government in 2022 intervened in the ICJ’sinternational trial on the risk of genocide in Ukraine, explicitly stating then that the prevention and suppression of genocide is not only a domestic matter but concerns the international community as a whole.

The Danish criticism of Israel’s ongoing onslaught on Gaza is profoundly vague, with the ICJ interim order on the situation in the Strip—a milestone in the decades-long struggle for justice by the Palestinian people—being minimised and referred to only as “a raised legal finger” by Rasmussen.

“Considering that Israel has sought to conceal its crimes by describing its attacks as abiding to international humanitarian lawsand by distorting IHL customary rules for nearly nine months now, the legal disregard that much of the international communityis displaying at this point is even more disturbing,” said Michela Pugliese, a researcher at Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor.

The UN Special Rapporteur Albanese’s new report shows thatIsrael has treated an entire population and its life-sustaining infrastructure as “terrorist” or “terrorist-supporting”. Everything and everyone in the Gaza Strip has been transformed into either a target or collateral damage in the name of Israel’s alleged self-defense, including the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), the main provider of basic necessities and services in Gaza.

“The balanced approach of most EU countries, including Denmark, condemns both sides in the same way, but cuts life-saving aid to UNRWA in the middle of a ‘war’ while endlessly supporting the Israeli right to self-defense, both financially and politically,” added Pugliese. “This is clearly in breach of the Genocide Convention, as genocide cannot be justified under any circumstances, including purported self-defense.”

Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor calls on the Danish government to reconsider the citizens’ petition and listen to the will of 53,188 Danes, as well as to recognise the genocide in the Gaza Strip, and work actively to stop it in accordance with its international obligations under the 1948 Genocide Convention and international laws. Euro-Med Monitor recalls that all states that have been complicit in what can be reasonably concluded to constitute genocide—through financial support, delivery of arms, and/ordiplomatic shielding of perpetrators from accountability—like Denmark, must be held accountable and deliver reparations commensurate with the destruction, death, and harm inflicted on the Palestinian people.