Coffee Morning with Charles Shamas

A look at international law in the Israeli-Palestinian context


Charles Shamas, from the Palestinian human rights organisation Mattin Group

Chaired by

Olaf Boehnke, Head of ECFR Berlin Office

ECFR Berlin organised a BCM this morning covering the normative impact the European Union can have on the MEPP. The guest speaker was the international humanitarian law expert Charles Shamas. Replying to Charles Shamas was Alexandre Collegaro, a representative of the German Foreign Office who specialises in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The discussion centred upon the importance of upholding norms when dealing with third party states, and the slow and quiet impact this can have on a conflicts such as the Arab-Israeli one. The discussion particularly focused on how European states should deal with goods produced in settlements built beyond the 1967 armistice lines. The donor conference that was recently held over the rebuilding of Gaza was also touched upon. There was general agreement that, while it is dangerous to instrumentalise norms in a way that is seen to coerce other actors, it is important for Europe to behave according to the normative standards it has set itself. The maxim that when strong states defect from accepted norms then weaker actors always follow was seen as instructive in this regard. It was argued that if Europe upholds high standards in terms of international law it socialises other states into cooperating with its requirements. The debate emphasised that what the MEPP needs is not another grand peace initiative, but simply for outside actors to behave according to the international norms they themselves established and have agreed upon.

In attendance were representatives of government (the Foreign Ministry), advisers for parliamentary factions (SPD & Bündnis 90/ die Grünen) and experts from relevant think tanks (ELNET, Friedrich Ebert Foundation, Center for Applied Research in Partnership with the Orient (CARPO)).