Press Release

Secretary-General awards $700,000.00 from Trust Fund to Assist States

in Settlement of Disputes through International Court of Justice

NEW YORK, 4 June (UN Office of Legal Affairs) -- Following the recommendation of a Panel of Experts, the Secretary-General has awarded the amount of $350,000.00 each to the Republic of Benin and the Republic of the Niger, who sought financial assistance for the settlement of a boundary dispute through the International Court of Justice.

In late 2003, the Secretary-General received a joint application from the above two States requesting financial assistance from the Secretary-General’s Trust Fund to Assist States in the Settlement of Disputes through the International Court of Justice to defray the expenses these countries will incur in connection with the submission of a boundary dispute to the Court.

According to the Terms of Reference of the Trust Fund, each application has to be examined by a Panel of Experts, established for that purpose, to recommend to the Secretary-General the amount of financial assistance to be given and the types of expenses for which the assistance may be used.  The Panel of Experts, which was composed of Prince Zeid Ra’ad Zeid Al-Hussein, Permanent Representative of Jordan to the United Nations, Mr. Jagdish Koonjul, Permanent Representative of Mauritius to the United Nations, and Mr. Kishore Mahbubani, Permanent Representative of Singapore to the United Nations, met on 28 April and 11 May 2004 to examine the joint application.  On the basis of the Panel Report the Secretary-General decided on 24 May to award $350,000.00 to each of the applicants.

The Charter of the United Nations recognizes the settlement of disputes “by peaceful means, and in conformity with the principles of justice and international law” as a basic purpose of the United Nations and as an essential tool for the maintenance of international peace and security.  Although administrative costs of the International Court of Justice are borne by the United Nations, parties to a dispute must bear the costs of agents, counsels, experts, witnesses, the preparation of memorials and counter-memorials, the costs of implementing a judgment etcetera.  The total can be considerable.  Thus, costs can be a factor in deciding whether or not a dispute will be referred to the Court.

The statutory purpose of the Trust Fund is to encourage the peaceful settlement of disputes by providing financial assistance to States as an incentive to submit their disputes to the International Court of Justice.  The financial

assistance is granted on the condition that it is used by the receiving State to defray expenses incurred in connection with the submission of a dispute to the Court and the costs of implementing a judgment.

Since its creation in 1989, six States have benefited from the Trust Fund’s financial assistance.

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