The case of Gaza has exposed the imperialist nature of the international legal order

WDF’s statement on “Palestine, Imperialism, and the Future of International Law” in an international symposium on “Power & Prosperity in a Multipolar World”, held in Sao Paulo, Brazil on 20 June 2024, by the Progressive International (PI) and State University of Campinas (UNICAMP)

WDF is a founding member of the Progressive International, and a member of its Council. Our founding president comrade Ismat Raza Shahjahan, represented WDF in the above symposium, and in the first in-person meeting of the PI’s Council. Following is the text of her speech.

Thank you, PI and UNICAMP for organizing this session and allowing me to speak on the issue of Palestinian resistance against imperialism – a subject close to the Women Democratic Front’s heart.

To begin with, I will narrate the lines of Habib Jalib, a progressive poet from Pakistan

Zulm Rahe Aur Aman Bhi Ho

Let there be atrociousness, and yet there will be peace

Is that possible, you tell it yourself

Kya Mumkin He, Tum hi Kaho

On behalf of the Women Democratic Front, I present red salute to our Palestinian sisters and brothers in struggle, the Palestinian masses and resistance forces, and the progressives around the world for fearlessly fighting the most ferocious and merciless imperialist war machinery in human history.

Ismat Shahjahan speaking at the PI Symposium held in Sao Paulo, Brazil – June 2024

We offer this statement first and foremost to the Palestinian people, whose struggle against colonialism & imperialism continues to inspire us every day. Generation after generation, they fall, and time after time, they rise, with their wounded souls and brutalised bodies.

We recognise the Palestinian liberation struggle as being at the heart of the third-world anti-imperialist struggle and extend our deepest solidarity to the people fighting against Israel’s colonial expansionism. We oppose imperialist wars everywhere, including the Second Cold War that is once again converting Palestine, Pakistan and Afghanistan into global war theatres.  Our solidarity with the Palestinian cause has deep roots in third-world internationalism and anti-imperialism, the Palestinian liberation is an anti-colonial struggle and we recognize it as such.

We also recognise that the Zionist forces of Israel cannot continue their violence without the support of imperialist forces, especially the Anglo-Saxon empire (USA, Britain, Australia, Canada and New Zealand), now led by the USA and its allies.

We believe that the struggle for the right to self-determination including secession cannot be criminalized & prohibited as the cession of a territory is a ‘sovereign right of a nation’, even outside the international law or the constitution of a country. This sovereign right of a nation has been globally recognized now for more than a century.

Theoretically, there is no contradiction between the principles of self-determination and territorial integrity. After all, it is the will of the Palestinian people that makes a state legitimate!

The case of Gaza has once again exposed the imperialist nature of international law. Israel openly violated the Genocide Convention in broad daylight inflicting death, destruction and displacement on Palestinian masses. While, international law has been ineffective as always, when confronting imperialism, particularly settler-colonialism, for the system was never intended to challenge the imperialist West and its satellites.

The current international legal order is imperialist, it supports geo-economic expansion; the making of super-profits fueled by the systemic looting of former and neo-colonies, sustains the exploitation of workers in the imperialist heartlands; and fuels the imperialist war industry.

Multilateral institutions have historically been used as scaffoldings to serve imperialism; its structures of domination; and to justify its destructive, and genocidal wars.

International political and legal spaces such as the UN, the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court have always been hostile spaces for conversations about the historical and structural domination of the Anglo-Saxon Empire. This empire and its biggest imperialist war machinery NATO shape the modern geo-political and geo-economic order of the world.

The unconditional support that USA and NATO allies have provided in the form of military aid, arms, and technology, to the Israeli state over the last few decades, is highly condemnable. So is the criminal silence of the OIC (Organization of Islamic Cooperation) and UN on the ongoing violence against the people of Palestine.

The use of veto powers in cases involving war crimes, genocides, mass atrocities and humanitarian crises is tantamount to barbarism. Political struggle for democratization of the UN, mainly the Security Council to include permanent members from Africa, Latin America, and Asia, reflecting a more diverse and representative global order should be on the Left’s agenda. We firmly believe that a concerted campaign for dismantling NATO must be initiated, as well.

The 17th and 18th centuries were the centuries of colonization through conventional means and direct physical occupation.  The 19th and 20th centuries were the centuries of decolonization, socialist revolutions, and counter-revolutions. The 21st century is seeing proxy wars for recolonization, financial and environmental forms of imperialism, and the use of big tech and artificial intelligence for imperialist expansionism to avoid the meltdown of the Anglo-Saxon empire and a new balance of global power into a multipolar formation.

As we embark on the 21st century and this new stage of history, the period of traditional socialist and feminist revolutions has concluded, and progressive forces worldwide are seeking new democratic means of revolutions. Socialist movements are achieving electoral victories in several countries in Central and Southern America. Socialists also emerged victorious in Nepal. Women are leading revolutions in Kurdistan, resisting dictatorship in Iran, and leading national resistance movements in Balochistan. Pashtuns are fighting against the militarization of their homeland, which has been used as the international battlefield for proxy wars during the Cold War, and now for a new Cold War. Palestinians are fighting against the most ferocious nexus of imperialism and Zionism.  Afghan masses are fighting against one of the most oppressive and cruel patriarchies in the world.

We know that the only way to defeat the occupation forces in Palestine and across the world is through global solidarity of the left, peoples’ collectives and transnational conversations.

We call upon the left and resistance forces from across the world to join hands to fight capitalism, imperialism, patriarchy, religious extremism, racism, and occupation everywhere and anywhere. We believe that none of us is free until all of us are free.

In building the global left and struggle against imperialism, there is no doubt that internationalism is important to defeat imperialism. However, given the hydra-headed nature of imperialism, the euro-centric nature of internationalism, the emerging multipolar configuration of the global powers, regionalism and national liberation struggles are equally important.

The darkness of oppression, exploitation and war has to die, we must build a new politics that is liberatory and forms the basis of our collective liberation!

Glory to the martyrs, healing to the wounded, and power to the Palestinian masses.

Towards liberation and equality

From River to the Sea – Palestine will be Free