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International Law Film Screening and Project Presentation

Film Screening and Discussion: Broken — A Palestinian Journey through International Law


Presentation of LAILY – Learning Alliance: International Law for Youth


Report by Vincent Nijhof

Student Assistant, UNESCO Chair in Human Rights


The event on October 6, 2022 at the University of Luxembourg was co-organised by the UNESCO Chair in Human Rights, the Learning Alliance: International Law for Youth (LAILY) and the Comité pour une Paix Juste au Proche-orient (CPJPO), offering a discussion after the screening with the film’s producer, Stefan Ziegler, about both the documentary and the development of the LAILY project.

The award-winning one-hour documentary film Broken provides a distinctive cinematic insight into the processes and limits of international law. The film’s direct and factual approach addresses the erection of the Israeli West Bank barrier wall, which was built along the demarcation line and inside parts of the West Bank territory after an outbreak of violent incidents in Israel in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Israel justifies the construction of the concrete wall, as well as the de facto annexation of Palestinian territory, through security concerns. As shown in the film, the International Court of Justice (ICJ), in its advisory opinion in 2004, assessed that the construction of the wall is contrary to international law and suggested further UN action, with Israel ignoring the decisions ever since. By looking at the situation today and recalling the overwhelming, though ignored UN General Assembly vote demanding that Israel comply with the ICJ ruling in 2004, the film dramatically illustrates the ineffectiveness of international law in the case of non-compliance. Yet, it also pointedly reminded the viewers that the “last words have not been spoken yet” and that international law will have an impact in the long run, underlining that patience is required as long as the “wall is stronger than international law”.

The subsequent, lively discussion between Stefan Ziegler, LAILY representatives, and the audience through direct questions, moderated by chairholder Prof. Dr. Harmsen, revealed great interest in the subject. The discussions covered both the challenges encountered in making the film and the lessons that might be drawn from it in terms of the (in)effectiveness of international law. The audience was further able to gain an extensive overview during the presentation of the LAILY development and education project. LAILY is an active expression of reinforcing civil society by disseminating knowledge about international law in conflict situations, making use of documentary film as a mediating tool, which became especially visible during the event within the UNESCO Chair in Human Rights framework. It was shown how the LAILY initiative aims at raising awareness for international law among civil society and for peace, strengthening its power of enforcement, by creating learning experiences and knowledge. The LAILY representatives demonstrated their use of innovative, multimedia course materials within the framework of a project to bring international law into secondary schools.

The event at the University of Luxembourg, which lasted some four hours, was attended by a variety of people including students, teachers, human rights and donor representatives. The different styles of presentation, encompassing film and participatory discussions, as well as providing a venue for personal encounters concluding the event, thus contributed towards achieving the goal of greater understanding about international law, also in education.