A Tale of two blockades


In Gothenburg, Sweden, a ship has set sail to run Israel's blockade of Gaza, in a reprise of a now common activist tactic. At the same time, an Iranian ship has set sail from Bander Abbas to relieve the Saudi coalition's blockade of Yemen, which has half the country on the brink of starvation.

Both blockades arise in what much of the international community regards as "non-international armed conflict" (NIAC). [The reasoning for both characterizations as NIACs is quite strained, in my view.]

In a new post at OpinioJuris, I discuss the legality of the Saudi blockade, showing that much previously neglected state practice supports the use of blockades in NIACs. Indeed, the only time it has been argued that such actions are illegal is in relation to the Gaza blockade. But the international community's acceptance of the Yemen blockade (though not necessarily the particulars of its administration) shows that any potential anti-blockade norm has failed to materialize.

One wonders whether the new Gaza flotilla will meet a different response from the international community, now that it has remembered that blockade is legal. One also wonders whether the Yemen blockade, which by Oxfam's description of it has turned it into what one would elsewhere call "the world's largest open air prison" will manage to get half the international attention as the Gaza one.