|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-fifth General Assembly
38th & 39th Meetings (AM & PM)
Presidents of International Criminal CouRt, International Court of Justice
Present Annual Reports to General Assembly
World Court Chief Hails Growing Interest in Rule of Law,
Says United Nations Can Strengthen ‘Moral Fibres’ by Bolstering Legal Norms
The Presidents of the International Court of Justice and International Criminal Court told the General Assembly today they had made great progress in their work promoting the rule of law and confronting impunity, while Assembly delegates noted the growing complexity of their cases and increased workload, and pushed for the judicial bodies to receive more human and financial resources.
The Assembly’s joint debate on the activities and challenges of the Courts over the past year heard nearly 40 speakers throughout the day praise efforts of both bodies to improve efficiency and bolster cooperation with States, though some expressed concern at instances of perceived political and judicial activism.
In his address, Hisashi Owada, President of the International Court of Justice, often referred to as the World Court, said that over the past year, States continued to trust it to adjudicate on a broad range of topics from all regions of the world, extending from classic legal issues to more contemporary ones. Its docket of pending cases — now at 16 and involving some 30 different States — had been consistently increasing in recent years and showed political leaders were more conscious of the importance of international law.
“Indeed, it must be emphasized that the importance of the rule of law in the contemporary international community is growing rapidly, against the backdrop of the deepening process of globalization,” he said. “By working to strengthen the rule of law, the Organization can strengthen its moral fibres that are so essential to uniting an increasingly interconnected world.”
This year the Court had rendered one judgment on merits, handed down an order on the admissibility of a counterclaim and an order discontinuing proceedings, he said. At the Assembly’s request, on 22 July 2010, the Court had rendered its advisory opinion on the legality of Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence, concluding the declaration adopted by Kosovo in February 2008 did not violate international law.
That Opinion received “lively attention” from the United Nations and its Members, as 36 States filed written statements on the question, and the authors of the declaration of independence had filed a written contribution, while 28 States and the authors participated in public hearings. “The procedure was thus a truly global one, and represented an important form of interaction between the General Assembly and the Court,” he said. In other business, the Court had engaged in hearings and deliberations in a number of cases, and he pledged the Court would continue to do its utmost to achieve its mandate to assist Members and peacefully settle their disputes.
To that point, the Director-General for Legal Affairs in Sweden’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, speaking on behalf of the Nordic countries (Finland, Iceland, Norway, Denmark and Sweden), said the Court had attained a solid reputation as an impartial institution with the highest legal standards. The Court’s relevance had been seen in its advisory opinion on whether Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence was in accordance with international law, he said, calling States Parties to ensure that the Court’s work was not hampered by a lack of sufficient resources.
The representative of New Zealand, speaking also on behalf of Australia and Canada, encouraged all States to accept the Court’s compulsory jurisdiction, as fewer than half the State Parties to the Court’s Statute had declared such acceptance. That would give the Court more time to consider the substance of cases, rather than objections to its jurisdiction, he said.
Yet the representative of the Russian Federation agreed that while the Court had indeed been productive, his country had submitted its objections to the Court’s jurisdiction in the Application of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, submitted by Georgia. The case had been generated for “spurious” political motives; for the first time in the history of international jurisprudence, a case had been brought against a State that was not party to a dispute. He expressed hope an “erroneous” message would not be sent; there was also a risk that States would be more cautious in recognizing the Court’s jurisdiction in international treaties, he said.
Later, Georgia’s representative said there was a dispute between Georgia and the Russian Federation over the Convention, and the Court was the most appropriate forum for resolving it. With that, he reiterated Georgia’s strong support for the Court as the United Nations principal judicial organ. Indeed, the Court was the symbol of justice for hundreds of thousands of Georgians who had been denied their rights — in this case, deprivation of Georgians’ fundamental rights to safe return to their homes in South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
Addressing the Assembly in the afternoon, Sang-Hyun Song, President of the International Criminal Court, said it had made impressive progress, especially at this year’s first Review Conference of the Rome Statute held 31 May to 11 June, in Kampala, Uganda, and which reached an agreement to adopt a definition of the crime of aggression. The Conference also created great potential to enhance the effectiveness of the Rome Statute, but the Court faced significant challenges, especially with respect to the cooperation of States.
There were now eight outstanding arrest warrants against persons charged with a raft of grave crimes, and that fact had devastated the victims and communities affected by crimes under the Court’s jurisdiction. “Four of the persons avoiding justice are alleged commanders of the Lord’s Resistance Army [and] warrants against them have been outstanding for five years,” he said.
As for another matter of concern, he said that in August, the Court had informed the Security Council and Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute that Sudanese President Omar Hassan Ahmad Al-Bashir was visiting Kenya and Chad despite two outstanding warrants for his arrest for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur. “If States do not provide the cooperation necessary for the Court’s functioning in accordance with their legal obligations, the [Court] will not be able to fulfil its mandate and impunity will continue to flourish,” he said.
But he added the new investigation opened in the past year, concerning the 2007-2008 post-election violence in Kenya, was the first ever situation to be brought before the Court at the Prosecutor’s own initiative. The Prosecutor would also soon present two new cases in the Kenya situation, and also has announced he was looking into situations concerning Colombia, Georgia, Afghanistan, Côte d’Ivoire, Palestine and Guinea. He went on to express hope that more Member States would consider signing the Rome Statute, noting the Court needed universal support to become an effective deterrent for mass crimes. The Court was not intended to substitute national justice systems, but was merely a safety net, he said.
The representative of Belgium, speaking on behalf of the European Union, noted progress in the Court and commended the spirit of consensus that had prevailed and had enabled the final agreement to be reached at the first Conference to Review the Rome Statute in Kampala, Uganda.
But it was necessary to recall the Court’s fundamental principle of complementarity, according to which each State was chiefly responsible for investigating and prosecuting presumed perpetrators of the most serious crimes against the international community, he said. The European Union regretted Sudan’s “infringements of its international obligations”, and reaffirmed the need for all States Parties to fully meet their obligations under the Rome Statute.
The representative of Zambia, on behalf of the African Group, called on all States to ratify the Rome Statute. He believed the fact that all four of the Court’s current situations were in Africa — three of which were self-referrals — illustrated the high regard that African States had for the promotion and protection of the rule of law. Some African officials complained the Court’s exclusive focus to date on investigations in Africa suggested the continent was being unfairly targeted, yet the decision taken by the fifteenth African Union Summit and the visit by Sudanese President Al-Bashir to two States Parties should not obscure the consistent, active backing of the Court among African Governments and civil society across the continent, he said.
However, he said, the African Union’s concern regarding the Court largely related to Security Council inaction. Indeed, the African Union had based its call for non-cooperation with the Court on the fact that the Council had ignored its 2008 request to defer the case against President Al-Bashir. “Even among officials that strongly support the International Criminal Court, concern has mounted that the Security Council has disrespected the African Union by failing to respond either positively or negatively to its deferral request. Resolution of this issue is the only way that would facilitate cooperation between the African Union and [the Court],” he said, imploring all stakeholders to urge the Security Council to respond to the African Union’s request.
Preceding the day’s agenda, the Assembly observed a moment of silence in tribute to the late Prime Minister of Barbados, David Thompson, who passed away on Saturday, 23 October 2010, at the age of 48.
Expressing condolences on behalf of their Governments and peoples were the representatives of Malawi (on behalf of the African Group), China (on behalf of the Asian Group), Croatia (on behalf of the Eastern European States Group), Trinidad and Tobago (on behalf of Latin American and Caribbean States Group) and Spain (on behalf of the Western European and Other States Group). The representative of Barbados thanked the Assembly for its tribute.
Also speaking today on the International Court of Justice were the representatives of Ghana, Japan, Mexico, Republic of Korea, Egypt, the Philippines, Peru, Senegal, Sudan, Chile, India, Singapore, Brazil, Nigeria, Bulgaria, South Africa, Nicaragua, Argentina, Ecuador and the United Kingdom.
Speaking in exercise of the Right of Reply was Serbia’s representative.
In the afternoon, delegations speaking on the report of the International Criminal Court included Trinidad and Tobago (on behalf of the Caribbean Community), Canada, Republic of Korea, Japan, Egypt, Liechtenstein, Ghana and Mexico.
The General Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. Friday, 29 October, to continue and conclude its discussion of the reports of the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court. It is also expected to take action on a draft resolution on the review of the United Nations peacebuilding architecture.
The General Assembly met today to consider the respective annual reports of the International Criminal Court and the International Court of Justice.
The report of the International Court of Justice (document A/65/4) states that over the past year, the number of cases pending before the world judicial body remained high. From 1 August 2009 to 31 July 2010, 17 contentious cases and two advisory procedures were pending; 15 contentious cases and one advisory procedure remain so as of 31 July 2010.
Four new contentious cases and one new advisory proceeding were initiated: Certain Questions concerning Diplomatic Relations ( Honduras v. Brazil); Jurisdiction and Enforcement of Judgments in Civil and Commercial Matters ( Belgium v. Switzerland); Whaling in the Antarctic ( Australia v. Japan); and Proceedings jointly instituted by Burkina Faso and the Republic of Niger (Burkina Faso/Republic of Niger). A request for an advisory opinion was also submitted to the Court by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) concerning Judgment No. 2867 of the Administrative Tribunal of the International Labour Organization upon a complaint filed against the International Fund for Agricultural Development.
During 2009 and 2010, the Court also held public hearings in three cases, the report notes, and delivered one judgment in the case concerning Pulp Mills on the River Uruguay ( Argentina v. Uruguay). Ten orders fixing time limits for the filing of written pleadings were also made, and an advisory opinion was given on the question of the Accordance with international law of the unilateral declaration of independence in respect of Kosovo.
Also during the period under review, Judge Shi Jiuyong, former President and former Vice-President of the Court, resigned effective 28 May 2010. To fill that vacancy, the General Assembly and the Security Council on 29 June 2010 elected Xue Hanquin ( China) to fill the remainder of Judge Shi’s term, which will expire on 5 February 2012.
The 2010 and 2011 year will also be full, the report says, owing to the referral of four new contentious cases, two applications to intervene by third States in a pending case, and one request for an advisory opinion between 1 August 2009 and 31 July 2010. This sustained level of activity was possible because of the Court’s willingness to take numerous steps to increase its efficiency and deal with its steady workload. The Court continually re-examines its procedures and working methods and has regularly updated its practice directions (adopted in 2001) for States’ use before it.
As the principal judicial organ of the United Nations, the International Court of Justice is the only international court of a universal character with general jurisdiction. It consists of 15 judges elected for nine-year terms by the General Assembly and Security Council. Every three years, one-third of its seats fall vacant. The next elections to fill such vacancies will be held in the last quarter of 2011.
The Assembly also had before it the Secretary-General’s report on his Trust Fund to Assist States in the Settlement of Disputes through the International Court of Justice (document A/65/309), covering the 1 July 2009 to 30 June 2010 period, which outlines guidelines and rules of the Fund.
The Trust Fund was established in 1989 under the Financial Regulations and Rules of the United Nations following consultations with the President of the International Court of Justice, to provide financial assistance to Member States for various expenses incurred in connection with disputes submitted to the Court.
The report states that during the reporting period the Fund did not receive any applications for beneficiaries of financial assistance, and received voluntary contributions by three countries, including Finland, Ireland and Qatar, for a total of $69,855. As of 30 June, the total balance of the Fund was $2,825,278.78. The report also outlines the need for additional funding by Member States and provides instructions for making voluntary contributions to the Fund.
Also before the Assembly was the report of the International Criminal Court (document A/65/313), which covers the 1 August 2009 to 31 July 2010 period, and notes that the Court is charged with carrying out investigations into and trials of individuals allegedly responsible for the most serious crimes of international concern, namely genocide and war crimes. The five situations before the Court are cases from Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Central African Republic, Kenya and Darfur, and Sudan.
During the year, there were significant developments at the Court, the report says, with the opening of a new situation in Kenya, three ongoing trials, the dismissal of charges against a suspect, the voluntary appearance pursuant of a summons to appear of two suspects in the Darfur situation, and the issuance of a second warrant of arrest against President Al-Bashir of the Sudan. The system set up by States Parties to the Rome Statute — the Court’s founding document — made amendments inter alia in respect of the crime of aggression. Today, the most pressing challenge was the execution of nine outstanding arrest warrants.
The Review Conference of the Rome Statute in Kampala, Uganda, from 31 May to 11 June, provided States Parties the opportunity to review and amend the Statute and conduct a stocktaking of international criminal justice. They also made significant pledges on a wide range of issues. The Conference amended the Statute to include a definition of “the crime of aggression” and the condition under which the Court could exercise jurisdiction with respect to the crime, the report says. The definition was based on General Assembly resolution 3314 (XXIX), and the Conference agreed to qualify as aggression “a crime committed by a political or military leader, which by its character, gravity and scale, constitutes a manifest violation of the United Nations Charter”.
Among the Court’s ongoing cases, The Prosecutor v. Joseph Kony, Vincent Otti, Okot Odhiambo and Dominic Ongwen ( Uganda) was at the pretrial stage, with four warrants of arrest against members of the Lord’s Resistance Army since July 2005.
There were three ongoing cases on the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Prosecutor v. Bosco Ntaganda remained at the pretrial stage, with its August 2006 arrest warrant also outstanding. The Prosecutor v. Thomas Lubanga Dyilo heard evidence in the case against the alleged leader of the Union des Patriots Congolais and Commander-in-Chief of its military wing, however the Trial Chamber I on 8 July 2010 ordered a stay in proceedings, which has been appealed by the prosecution. The Prosecutor v. Germain Katanga and Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui has heard prosecution evidence.
The start date of the trial The Prosecutor v. Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo ( Central African Republic) was to be announced 30 August, while a second outstanding arrest warrant was issued with respect to three counts of genocide in the case of The Prosecutor v. Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir, which involves the President of the Sudan, in relation to the situation in Darfur.
Also on the situation in Darfur, in The Prosecution v. Bahr Idriss Abu Garda, Mr. Abu Garda appeared voluntarily for a summons before Pretrial Chamber I and on 8 February 2010 it declined to confirm the charges against him due to insufficient evidence. Two other suspects for the situation in Darfur appeared voluntarily before Pretrial Chamber I for an initial appearance in The Prosecutor v. Abdullah Banda Abakaer Nourain and Saleh Mohammed Jerbo Jamus, and were freed pending the 22 November 2010 hearing on confirmation of charges.
During the time period under review, investigations and analysis took place in each country, and the Office of the Prosecutor monitored proactively all information on crimes potentially falling within the jurisdiction of the Court. On 31 March 2010, the Prosecutor was authorized to commence an investigation of alleged crimes against humanity committed in Kenya between 1 June 2005 and 26 November 2009. The report says that the Office of the Prosecutor was also conducting preliminary examinations in various situations, including in Afghanistan, Colombia, Côte d’Ivoire, Georgia, Guinea and Palestine.
Cooperation with the United Nations remains essential, the report says, while peacekeeping missions assist the Court in transportation, communication support and use of United Nations facilities. In addition, the Court benefits from expertise of relevant offices, for example, when it works with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The Office of Legal Affairs facilitated cooperation with testimony of United Nations officials. Cooperation from other bodies is also important, including from the African Union, States and civil society. Lastly, two judges were elected to the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute. The Prosecutor appointed two advisers: Professor Tim McCormack is the Special Adviser on International Humanitarian Law and Professor José Alvarez is the Special Adviser on International Law.
The final document before the Assembly was the Secretary General’s report, Expenses incurred and reimbursement received by the United Nations in connection with assistance provided to the International Criminal Court (document A65/315), covering the period from 1 August 2009 to 30 June 2010, which says the Organization provided facilities and services to the Court in the amount of $534,913 for communications, conference services, staff, language examinations, field security and library services.
During the same period, the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) provided transport and other services to the Court amounting to $48,407. Additional expenses of $805,478 for services were incurred over the same period by the United Nations Office at Nairobi, the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, the United Nations Office at Geneva and the United Nations Logistics Base in Brindisi, Italy.
Assembly’s Tribute to the Prime Minister of Barbados
Preceding the day’s agenda, the Assembly observed a moment of silence in tribute to the late Prime Minister of Barbados, David Thompson, who passed away on Saturday, 23 October 2010, at the young age of 48.
BRIAN BOWLER ( Malawi), speaking on behalf of the African Group, expressed his delegation’s heartfelt condolences to “our dear brother and friend”. It was unimaginable that only three months after the African Union hosted the fifteenth Summit of Heads of State and Government in Kampala, Uganda, they would bid farewell to their brother, who had spoken so passionately about Afro-Caribbean bonds. His death was not only a loss to the people of Africa and the Caribbean, it was a tragedy to lose someone so young and who sadly departed at a time that he was involved in so many world affairs. He said so much remained on the agenda between Africa and the Caribbean region, and in tribute to his legacy, pledged to strive to fulfil his vision. .
WANG MIN ( China), on behalf of the Asian Group, expressed his sincere sympathy and condolences to Prime Minister Thompson’s family and to the Government and people of Barbados. The Prime Minister was an outstanding statesman, who had made tremendous efforts to overcome the severe impact of the international financial crisis and had achieved great progress in building his own country. Under his leadership, Barbados played a very positive role in promoting political solidarity and regional cooperation in the Caribbean community. Further, he had demonstrated a long-standing commitment to the advancement of the principles of the United Nations, particularly in tackling climate change in his role as member of the High-Level Panel on Global Sustainability.
RANKO VILOVIĆ ( Croatia), on behalf of the Eastern European States, expressed his heartfelt condolences to the late leader’s family and Government, as well as to the people of Barbados. In his short term in Office, Mr. Thompson had demonstrated character and remained committed to his goals. His love for his country extended far beyond his ministerial duties and while his leadership was unjustly cut short, many in the Caribbean region and the world would continue to benefit from his efforts.
CHERRY ANN MILLARD-WHITE (Trinidad and Tobago), speaking on behalf of the Latin American and Caribbean States, expressed her condolences to the family and Government of the former Prime Minister, who she described as an outstanding lawyer, orator and skilled debater. She recalled how at the young age of 25, Mr. Thompson had succeeded his mentor and protégé, Barbados founding Prime Minister, the late Errol Walton Barrow, as the Parliamentary representative of their rural St. John constituency, which he had represented from 1987 until his death on Saturday. An an integrationist, Mr. Thompson championed the cause of regional integration and the full implementation of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Single Market and Economy. He also envisioned an integration movement that would fully embrace the wider Caribbean region, in partnership with Latin America.
In closing, she said the region has lost one of its brilliant young minds and a member of the new generation of leaders charged with the responsibility to continue to build the Caribbean civilization, and an integral part of the international community. While mourning his loss, CARICOM was confident that the footprint left by Prime Minister Thompson would be used as a beacon by successive generations in their quest to make a meaningful contribution to the development of Barbados and the region.
JUAN ANTONIO YÁÑEZ-BARNUEVO ( Spain), on behalf of the Western European and Other States, conveyed to the Government and Barbados his delegation’s deepest sympathy on the loss of the Prime Minister. Mr. Thompson was an important figure in his country and would be recalled for his contributions to the Caribbean region and the United Nations for Global Development and Sustainability. An established lawyer, he worked as an advocate until elected a Member of Parliament in 1987, and served as a Culture Minister and Finance Minister. He voiced his appreciation and gratitude for the Prime Minister’s significant contribution not only to his country but to the region and the international community. In closing, he said, “o ur thoughts are with them at this difficult time”.
JOSEPH GODDARD ( Barbados) thanked the Assembly for its special tribute to the memory of the late Prime Minister Thompson, and thanked his colleagues for speaking so movingly of his many achievements. He acknowledged the many condolences expressed to Mr. Thompson’s family, Government and the people of Barbados. “All this I do with profound pain and sincere humility,” he said.
In an effort to shed some light on his life, achievements and contributions to Barbados, the wider Caribbean and the world, he recalled that the Mr. Thompson was born in London on 25 December, 1961, but was schooled in Barbados, and was awarded one of the country’s highest academic honours, a Barbados Exhibition, while at Combermere School, where he briefly taught before graduating from law school in Trinidad in 1986. He went on to serve as president of the Youth Arm of the Democratic Labour Party, and in 1987, following the death of Prime Minister Barrow, he represented the constituency of St. John, until his death. In 1991 he was appointed as Minister of Community Development and Culture, and went on to serve as Minister of State and Minister of Finance, as well as Opposition Leader. Finally, he became the Prime Minister of Barbados at the age of 46.
His legacy would include many achievements, among them promoting the family and the basic social unit, conceiving and promoting the Friends of Barbados programme, promoting housing solutions, introducing free competition for school children and championing the cause of the physically challenged and youth. Despite his many achievements he remained humble. In closing, he suggested that in the death of Prime Minister Thompson, the world had lost an ardent defender of democracy, human rights, social progress for all and multilateralism. The Caribbean had lost a committed regionalist; Barbados had lost a leader of great promise, and his family lost their mentor and centre of their world.
Statement by the President of the International Court of Justice
Introducing the Court’s report for the period from 1 August 2009 to 31 July 2010, HISASHI OWADA, President of the International Court of Justice, said States continued to place trust in the Court on a wide variety of legal disputes; in the past year, its cases involved States from all regions of the world on a wide range of subjects, extending from classical issues such as diplomatic protections and sovereign immunity, to issues of contemporary relevance such as international environmental law.
The Court had written one judgment, in the case concerning Pulp Mills on the river Uruguay (Argentina v. Uruguay), in which Argentina argued Uruguay violated obligations under their 1975 bilateral Treaty, the Statute of the River Uruguay, by authorizing plans to construct and commission the CMB (ENCE) and Orion (Botnia) pulp mills on the River Uruguay, which caused significant damage to the quality of the waters of the river as well as Argentina. Uruguay argued it had violated neither procedures nor its substantive obligations, he said. The Court ruled Uruguay had not breached the obligations and there was no conclusive evidence it had caused harm to the river, but noted it had violated procedure when it did not give prior notification of the projects, and emphasized the parties had a legal obligation to cooperate to promote equitable use of the river.
The case raised issues on how the Court should determine reliability of scientific evidence, he continued. After certain experts presented evidence in oral hearings as counsel rather than experts or witnesses, the Court had ruled they could only testify as experts or witnesses so they could be submitted to questioning. Assessing expert reports could also be complicated because they often contained conflicting claims and conclusions, he said. The Court concluded it did not have to discuss relative merits of studies presented by parties, but instead assess their value and draw conclusions where appropriate. Since the Court was expecting to regularly consider environmental cases in the future and would have to consider complex scientific evidence, it would be more fruitful if technical ideas could be discussed with objective experts, he said.
At the request of the General Assembly, on 22 July 2010 the Court rendered its advisory opinion on the Accordance with international law of the unilateral declaration of independence of Kosovo, concluding the declaration of independence adopted by Kosovo in February 2008 did not violate international law. The opinion received “lively attention” from the United Nations and its Members, as 36 States filed written statements on the question, and the authors of the declaration of independence had filed a written contribution, while 28 States and the authors participated in public hearings.
“The procedure was thus a truly global one, and represented an important form of interaction between the General Assembly and the Court,” he said. The Court carefully examined the scope and meaning of the question and noted that State practice during the eighteenth, nineteenth and early twentieth centuries “points clearly to the conclusion that international law contained no prohibition of declarations of independence,” he said. The Court also declared “the scope of the principle of territorial integrity is confined to the sphere of relations between States”.
The Court also handed down on 6 July 2010 its Order on the admissibility of a counterclaim in Jurisdictional Immunities of the State (Germany v. Italy), concluding Italy’s counterclaim related to facts and situations existing prior to the Court’s jurisdiction was entered into force in 1957, thus was inadmissible. Furthermore, the Court was now deliberating on oral proceedings held during the period covered by this report, in the case concerning Ahmadou Sadio Diallo ( Republic of Guinea v. Democratic Republic of Congo), dealing with claims for diplomatic protection on behalf of a Guinean businessman who alleged he was unlawfully arrested, detained and expelled from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The case between Honduras and Brazil during the reporting period was unique, as it faced conflicting contacts coming from competing Governmental authorities; both purporting to be acting on behalf of Honduras in a situation of political uncertainty. The case was eventually removed after the Minister of Foreign Affairs for Honduras informed the Court in a letter dated 30 April 2010 that the Honduran Government was not going ahead with proceedings initiated by the application filed in October 2009 against Brazil.
New contentious cases had also been filed by Belgium against Switzerland in an airline dispute, the International Fund for Agricultural Development over a ruling to pay a staff member compensation and damages, and Australia against Japan’s continued pursuit of whaling in the Antarctic. The Court also received one new request for an advisory opinion by Burkina Faso and Niger on their disputed boundary. “As you can see, all these different cases raise a great variety of divergent issues of public international law. I say that the work of the Court truly reflects the broad substantive scope that international law now covers,” he said.
The docket of pending cases had been consistently increasing in recent years — now standing at 16 cases involving some 30 different States — while coverage the Court was entrusted with was broader in scope than ever, with each presenting distinct legal and factual elements. The increased recourse to the International Court of Justice for settlement of disputes testified to growing consciousness among political leaders of the importance of the rule of law in the international community, which now permeated every aspect of the activities of the United Nations, he said. “By working to strengthen the rule of law, the Organization can strengthen its moral fibres that are so essential to uniting an increasingly interconnected world,” he said.
Statements on the International Court of Justice
ANDERS RÖNQUIST, Director-General for Legal Affairs in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Sweden, speaking on behalf of the Nordic countries (Finland, Iceland, Norway, Denmark and Sweden), attached great importance to the Court, which had attained a solid reputation as an impartial institution with the highest legal standards. Submission of a dispute to the Court must not be regarded as a hostile act, but rather as one reflecting States’ obligation to peacefully settle disputes, and in that context, he recalled the recommendation of the Assembly’s 2005 World Summit for States that had not done so to consider accepting the Court’s jurisdiction. Indeed, the Court had strengthened the rule of law and its relevance had been seen, among other ways, in its advisory opinion on whether Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence was in accordance with international law.
The Court’s contribution to the ongoing development of an international legal order based on the rule of law was significant, he said, underscoring at the same time the need to ensure that the Court was not overburdened for lack of sufficient resources. Some of the Nordic States had contributed to the Secretary-General’s Trust Fund to Assist States in dispute settlement through the Court. He welcomed all efforts to rationalize the Court’s working methods, including by introducing the system with law clerks at the disposal of Court Members. “We need to ensure that the Court has adequate resources,” he stressed.
JIM MCLAY ( New Zealand), speaking also on behalf of Australia and Canada, reiterated strong support for the Court, which was uniquely placed to further the United Nations goal to establish conditions under which justice and respect for international law could be maintained. Disputes had been submitted to the Court by various States from many regions. Such diversity, along with the wide-ranging, complex subjects under deliberation and pending before the Court, testified to the importance States accorded to the Court in resolving international disputes. The Court’s provision of advisory opinions continued to clarify key international law issues.
As such, he encouraged States that had not done so to accept the Court’s compulsory jurisdiction, as fewer than half the State Parties to the Court’s Statute had declared such acceptance. That would give the Court more time to consider the substance of cases, rather than objections to its jurisdiction. Each year, the Court had handled a significant range of cases and had cleared its backlog. Such efficiency would allow it to sustain an increasing workload and simultaneously manage a demanding case schedule. He was pleased that additional staff positions had been made available and that upgraded technical equipment at Peace Palace would be realized, which he hoped would help ease the processing of a heavy caseload.
LESLIE K. CHRISTIAN ( Ghana) recalled that the Court was the only international court with a universal character and general jurisdiction. The regional and cross-regional diversity of cases — contentious or otherwise — reflected that universality and the fact that States, when before the Court, spoke with one language: that of international law. The depth and breadth of matters before the Court ranged from territorial disputes to jurisdictional immunities of States and racial discrimination, to name a few. As Chair of the United Nations Advisory Committee on the Programme of Assistance for the Teaching, Study, Dissemination and Wider Appreciation of International Law, Ghana attached great importance to the need for a holistic approach to the dissemination and development of such law and its codification.
His Government, thus, urged that more resources be given to the Codification Division of the Office of Legal Affairs and the International Law Commission, including for resourcing Special Rapporteurs of the Commission and the audio-visual library of international law. Encouraged by the Court’s efforts to improve its working methods and programmes, such as the panel discussion on compulsory jurisdiction held during this week’s meeting of Legal Advisers of Member States, he said the Court’s reports helped to demystify its rules and procedures. Today’s debate was taking place at a time that the United Nations had given a “pride of place” to promoting the rule of law, nationally and internationally. The Court’s continued success would be an inspiration to regional courts and help bridge the fragmentation of international law.
SHIGEKI SUMI (Japan), thanking President Hisashi Owada for his report on the current situation of the International Court of Justice, stated that his delegation was especially impressed by the wide regional range of Member States seeking to resolve international legal disputes by referring cases to the Court. That fact, he said, illustrated the universality of the Court and the “great importance” that Member States attached to it. In particular, he commended the work of the Court on its advisory opinion regarding the question of accordance with international law of the unilateral declaration of independence in respect of Kosovo.
Furthermore, he noted that, in the international community, which continued to witness armed conflicts and acts of terrorism, the firm establishment of law and order remained indispensable. In this regard, he said, the role of the Court as the principal judicial organ of the United Nations was “paramount” and could not be overstated. Japan, for its part in support of the Court, would continue to contribute to its “invaluable” work and its efficient and effective operation.
JOEL HERNÁNDEZ (Mexico) said his delegation wished to emphasize that the four new contentious cases initiated before the Court, as well as the latest request for an advisory opinion by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the ruling in the Pulp Mills in the River Uruguay Case, among others, had demonstrated the international community’s confidence in the Court as the main judicial international tribunal. Further, Mexico was grateful for the Court’s periodic revisions of its procedures and practice directions and its willingness to increase its personnel, including the number of law clerks, security personnel and the new telecommunication technician post, he said.
Turning to the report, he noted that of the 17 cases the Court considered during the period under review, five of them concerned States of Latin America and the Caribbean, one of which was resolved this year. That had clearly demonstrated his region’s commitment with international law and with the principle of peaceful settlement of disputes. He underscored the great legal significance that the Court’s rulings have for the parties in dispute and its essential role in the development of international law, citing the ruling in the Pulp Mills in the River Uruguay Case, as a clear example.
He said that the advisory opinion of the Seabed Disputes Chamber of the International Tribunal for the Law of Sea showed how the Court could enrich the work of other international courts, which indicated that multiple international courts and tribunals did not necessarily lead to the fragmentation of international law. In fact, it opened the door for interjudicial dialogue, which had an enormous potential to strengthen the international judicial system. In closing, he confirmed Mexico’s recognition of the Court as the main judicial organ for peace and settlement of the disputes and as a principal organ of the United Nations.
KIM HYUNGJUN ( Republic of Korea) recalled that, following the cold war era, public and scholarly circles had naturally turned to international institutions and international law to provide solutions. Driven by globalization and drastic changes in the international order, debates among States on various issues, from territorial disputes to environmental conflicts, had spawned the international political arena, and international law appeared to be the “inescapable wave of the future”. In that context, he wondered what was, or what could be, the Court’s role as the United Nations primary judicial organ. To prevent discrepancies and incongruent development of international law, he expected the Court to be the “anchor” for harmonizing the international judiciary.
Recalling a few cases, he said the Pulp Mills on the River Uruguay ( Argentina v. Uruguay) case included questions on the environmental implications of using part of the river that formed the countries’ joint boundary. The Court had separated the breach in its procedural obligations from its substantive obligations under the relevant articles of the Treaty in that judgment, and delivery of that decision showed the Court’s in-depth judicial analysis in providing the most adequate decision. He expected the Court to suggest reasonable standards in the pending Whaling in the Antarctic case ( Austria v. Japan), based on its judicial prudence to interpret international conventions and obligations for preserving the marine environment. While resources were recently appropriated for replacing the Court’s information technology equipment, which would cover the costs of installing that technology, more funds were needed and he underscored the importance of State contributions in that regard.
SOHA GENDI (Egypt) reaffirmed her delegation’s support for the Court’s key role in ensuring the implementation of the provisions of international law, adjudicating disputes between States and providing advisory opinions to States and international organizations on how best to assume their roles and functions. Reviewing the important legal principles strengthened by the Court since its establishment, including the “legality of the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons”, the “legal implications of the establishment of the separation wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory” and others, Egypt emphasized the need to encourage States and United Nations organs and specialized agencies to request advisory opinions of the Court on important legal questions arising within the scope of their activities.
She went on to say that Egypt considered that it was important to provide the Court with the chance to consider the legality of encroachment “by certain principal organs of the Organization on the competence of other principal organs that are of a more representative and democratic character”. In the same vein, she said, it was necessary to monitor and assess the implementation of the Court’s decisions and to enhance the recognition of the moral and legal values of its advisory opinions. This could take place through the establishment of a mechanism within the United Nations for that purpose. Egypt welcomed the steps taken by the Court to increase its effectiveness in its dealing with the steady increase of cases before it, and said it would request six additional positions for law clerks from the regular budget. It also welcomed the reference in the Court’s report to the ongoing work for the technological innovation of the Peace Palace halls.
LIBRAN N. CABACTULAN ( Philippines) reaffirmed his country’s support for the work of the Court and the “invaluable” role it played in promoting an international legal order founded on the primacy of the rule of law and the peaceful settlement of disputes. He also commended the Court for taking steps that had allowed it to sustain its level of activity, including the continuous re-examination of its procedures and working methods, the regular updating of its practices adopted in 2001 for use by States before it, and the setting of an exacting schedule. Additionally, he took note of the Assembly’s contributions to the Court’s efforts at streamlining and making its working methods more efficient by approving additional posts in the Court’s registry in 2009, and called for Member States to continue to provide the Court with the necessary means that would ensure its proper and efficient functioning.
Further, the Philippines registered its approval for work done by the Court aimed at making itself and its decisions more widely accessible to the public through traditional media and information and communications technology. Yet while transparency and accessibility were essential, they should never compromise the Court’s security, said the representative. It was on that point that the Philippines noted the request to strengthen the Court’s security team and enable it to confront new technological threats in respect of information systems security. “Our increasingly interdependent world” underscored the need for the rule of law, said the representative, and the steady rise in the resort by States, entities and even individuals to specialized tribunals and forums illustrated this need. In this regard, he said, “we count on the International Court of Justice’s function of norm elucidation to provide a basic framework of case law and norms, a harmony of jurisprudence in general international law, for the guidance of these specialized tribunals.”
GONZALO GUTIÉRREZ ( Peru) said the United Nations Charter recognized peaceful dispute settlement as a principle of international law. States had stated in General Assembly resolution 2625 (1970) that, in the conduct of international relations, all States would refrain from threat of force or use thereof against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State. To that end, it was imperative that all States settle disputes through peaceful means. The Court’s establishment was intended to create a universal system for peaceful dispute settlement, in line with international law. Through its advisory opinions, the Court contributed to the development of international law and the rule of law. Despite the sensitivities around various matters under dispute, which included territorial and maritime delimitation issues, States had consistently chosen to come before the Court, reflecting its broad legitimacy.
Through its adherence to the Bogotá Pact, Peru had pledged to resolve disputes peacefully, he said, noting also that his country recognized the Court’s unconditional competence in dispute settlement. In the Manila Declaration the Peaceful Settlement of International Disputes and resolution 37/10 (1982), it was established that legal disputes should be brought before the Court. That should not be deemed an unfriendly act. It was of greatest importance that the Court’s jurisdiction be universally accepted and he appealed to those States that had not yet done so to accept the Court’s compulsory jurisdiction. Peru fully supported the Court’s work and recognized the outstanding work of its judges, citing the heavy docket of disputes, with four new cases and one request for an advisory opinion, coupled with 17 pending cases. He urged States to ensure that the Court enjoyed sufficient resources. While welcoming that six posts of legal officers and a telecommunication technician post were approved, he also urged that other requests for security personnel be granted.
BASSIROU SENE ( Senegal) said the meeting today was a timely opportunity to focus on the constructive actions of the International Court of Justice in its efforts to promote peace and justice and peaceful work and respect for the international rule of law. Senegal reiterated its confidence in the International Court of Justice as the only international jurisdiction whose everyday activities helped to promote international rule of law.
Further, he noted that the high number of applications that were submitted to Court this year illustrated the acceptance of rule of law and the interests that States attach to peaceful settlement disputes. The Court’s success could be gauged by the confidence placed in it by the number of States that were increasingly turning to the wisdom of its judgment. He said the report clearly illustrated the beneficial effects of peaceful settlements and the overriding goals of United Nations principles as an international organ for maintaining peace and security. Finally, he said the Organization should continue its efforts to help the Member States bring the disputes before the Court.
HASSAN ALI HASSAN ALI ( Sudan) commended the professionalism of the Court and its justices. Indeed, the Court’s continued impartiality had gained the international community’s trust, as reflected in the growing number of cases it had before it. He was pleased that the Court’s decisions were in support of the principle of State sovereignty and non-interference in States’ internal affairs, in line with the established norms of international law.
He went on to welcome the Secretary-General’s report on the Trust Fund to assist States in settling disputes before the Court, and urged more support for the Court so it could maintain its judicial role. In closing, he expressed Sudan’s confidence that the Court would continue its judicial process, which was distinguished by its impartiality and freedom from politicization.
OCTAVIO ERRÁZURIZ ( Chile) said the Court had made an outstanding contribution to enhancing peaceful relations among States and to strengthening the international legal order, built around the United Nations Charter. Indeed, the Court had a huge task in the current international context, with the existence of numerous multilateral treaties requiring judicial dispute settlement, and the need to apply mechanisms accepted by countries in their unilateral declarations or in bilateral treaties.
As in previous years, Chile reiterated that the Court’s advisory function was especially important, as its opinions provided substantive support for the United Nations work. Chile continued to believe that the Court must be given the necessary material and human resources to deal with an increasing caseload and responsibilities it must assume. He appreciated the Court’s efforts to publicize its work and make it accessible to international public opinion through modern technologies. He also emphasized Chile’s interest, shared with the Ibero-American community, in having a Spanish language version of the Court’s judgments.
KIRILL GEVORGIAN ( Russian Federation) said that last year, as in previous years, the Court indeed had been productive, with an unprecedented caseload reflecting States’ confidence in the United Nations principal legal organ. He recalled that his Government had spoken yesterday in the Security Council about the Court’s advisory opinion on the legality of Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence. An important part of that opinion was the confirmation that Security Council resolution 1244 (1999) continued to be in force and applied to the situation in Kosovo. The Court’s opinion also confirmed that the process of defining status was not over and that talks must continue. The Russian Federation was a party to a case concerning the Application of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, submitted by Georgia.
The Russian Federation had submitted its objections to the Court’s jurisdiction in that case, he said. A month ago, oral hearings had concluded and an opinion was awaited. The Court did not have jurisdiction over that case. To recognize such jurisdiction, two conditions must be met: the presence of a dispute to the Convention and a State application to institute proceedings under a certain article of the Convention. Neither circumstance was present. No dispute existed between those countries over Abkhazia and South Ossetia, nor had Georgia raised the matter with the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Rather, the case had been generated for “spurious” political motives. For the first time in the history of international jurisprudence, a case had been brought against a State that was not party to a dispute. Georgia had not made any attempt to suspend the mandate of Russian peacekeepers. The case had been launched by a State that had used armed force to settle an ethnic dispute.
He expressed hope that while the issue of jurisdiction was being considered, the Court would take those factors into account. Otherwise, an “erroneous” message would be sent and the Committee’s reputation would be harmed, as would the reputation of others that had been created to settle contentious issues. Moreover, all the work put into honing dispute settlement would be ignored and a negative signal could be sent to State peacekeepers who could always be accused of violating that Convention. There was also a risk that States would be more cautious in recognizing the Court’s jurisdiction in international treaties. All such points should be considered in delivering a judgment in that case. His Government was firmly committed to the principle of peaceful dispute settlement and was confident the Court would continue to show high standards in carrying out international jurisprudence.
BAJU BAN RIYAN ( India) said the Court held a unique position in the United Nations system, and therefore, no other judicial organ in the world could have the same capacity for dealing with international disputes. As the principal judicial organ of the United Nations, the Court was established to save future generations from the scourge of war and to find means of settling inter-State disputes through peaceful means by the application of international law. The Court remained the only judicial body with legitimacy derived from the Charter and enjoyed general jurisdiction.
The growing acceptance of the Court’s jurisdiction by States further highlighted its importance and confidence in the Court’s ability to resolve legal disputes. That confidence had led to a substantial increase in the Court’s workload, which increased this year to 15 cases, compared to 13 cases in 2009. Finally, he noted that the Court would require additional resources so that it could continue to respond to settling the States’ disputes in a timely manner.
DAREN TANG ( Singapore) said international relations must be governed by the rule of law in order to preserve international peace. Fundamental to that was the notion that disputes must be resolved peacefully. Needless to say, the Court played a vital role in that regard. Under international law, there was no formal hierarchy among various judicial mechanisms and tribunals, but it was incontrovertible that the Court commanded immense prestige and authority. Its judgments had been, and continued to be, extremely influential.
During the reporting period, the Court had clarified the jurisprudence relating to the seeking of provisional measures and other jurisdictional issues, which had been useful in that developing area of international law. Noting the growing number of disputes involving environmental law, Singapore also keenly followed the Court’s deliberations in the case concerning Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence, which involved a complex factual matrix, and he was pleased that the Court had taken care to seek the views of the actors involved. He likewise welcomed that various countries had taken an active role in deliberations, which augured well for the continued strength of the rule of law.
As for the Court’s administration, he applauded steps to streamline its processes and clear its backlog, also urging it to “not let up” in the pace of its proceedings, and in particular, to arrange for the start of oral proceedings as soon as possible after the conclusion of the written phases. He noted the Court’s request for additional security posts and, given that the risk of terrorist attacks had not lessened, believed it was only prudent to support that request.
MARCELO BÖHLKE ( Brazil ) commended the Court’s judges for their significant contribution to the effective application of international law, and thanked the Court’s Registrar for his important work. The Court was a key element in achieving the commitment of all Member States, as set out in the United Nations Charter, to establishing “conditions under which justice and respect for the obligation arising from treaties and other sources of international law” could be maintained. It also contributed to the maintenance of international peace and security. Additionally, the Court had been addressing cases whose subject matter touched on a wide range of “sensitive issues”, including territorial and maritime delimitation, environmental concerns, racial discrimination, and human rights violations, among others. He said that it was also noteworthy that the Court had seen several contentious cases from various parts of the world.
Brazil welcomed the continued efforts made by the Court to increase its efficiency and thereby enable it to cope with the steady increase in its workload. He noted in that regard, justice needed to be served “speedily” in order to strengthen the rule of law at the international level. He noted with satisfaction that the General Assembly responded positively to the request made by the Court to establish new law clerk posts as well as the creation of posts to manage the new telecommunications infrastructure of the Court and better assist the Registrar. Brazil further reiterated its unwavering support for the work undertaken by the Court and its significant contribution to the continued strengthening of a “rules-based international system”.
BAYO OJO SAN ( Nigeria) welcomed the report on the work of the Court and noted that the world judicial body had, over time, successfully mainstreamed the peaceful settlement of disputes in growing and varying issues, albeit with the exclusion of political considerations. The increased recourse to the Court by States for judicial settlements on diverse topics was a clear demonstration of confidence and acceptability of that judicial institution, he said, adding that Nigeria was pleased with the commitment of the Court to improving its efficiency and to re-examining its procedures and working methods. It noted in particular that efforts to strengthen the staff of the Court’s Registry were “heartening”.
On the issue of recognition of the Court’s compulsory jurisdiction, Nigeria wished to note that States Parties could not mandate the establishment of the Court as a judicial organ of the United Nations on one hand, while viewing the issue of recognition as a matter of voluntary acceptance by individual nations on the other. It was therefore “saddening” that many decades after the establishment of the Court, only 66 declarations of recognition had been received. Nigeria appealed to all counties which had not yet done so to accede to the declaration of recognition of the Court in view of its central role in the consolidation of the rule of law at the international level. Nigeria’s acceptance of the Court’s judgment in the “celebrated” Bakassi case with the Republic of Cameroon, for example, was worthy of emulation, he said, meanwhile asking that the Court put in place more effective mechanisms for the monitoring of the implementation of the Court’s decisions, as well as the evaluation of the moral and legal outcomes of its advisory opinions.
BRANIMIR ZAIMOV ( Bulgaria) attached great importance to the International Court of Justice as the principal judicial organ of the United Nations. It had played an important role in addressing disputes between States, thereby strengthening global security and the rule of law. As a cornerstone of peaceful dispute resolution, the Court had acquired a solid reputation as an institution under the Charter of the United Nations.
The increasing caseload before the Court illustrated that Member States continued to affirm its ability to resolve disputes, and that it carried great weight, moral authority and increasing value of international law on different issues. The growing number of cases was not only a testament to the Court’s vital role, but proof of the confidence States put in the Court. He noted the Court’s changing docket, including its growing specialization in public aspects of international law, such as commercial matters, including whaling in the Antarctic, among other cases. Bulgaria encouraged all States to contribute to the Court, which would further enhance its role and ensure that it continued to maintain peace and promote the rule of law. In closing, he said the recent election of the first two women judges to the court was a positive step in addressing gender equality.
DIRE TLADI ( South Africa) noted with pleasure that the number of cases on the Court’s docket continued to grow and welcomed the four new submissions made to it during the review period, noting that a fifth had been withdrawn. In particular, he noted that South Africa had made previous reference to the case concerning the Pulp Mills on the River Uruguay (Argentina v. Uruguay) and the case concerning the Aerial Herbicide Spraying (Ecuador v. Colombia), and had stated its eagerness to receive judgments which would build on the “already rich” wealth of jurisprudence on the environment in international law. In its Pulp Mills decision, the Court had drawn upon Treaty obligations and general principles, as well as the growing principle of prevention. The decision therefore illustrated the “continuing contribution to this constantly developing area of international law”, he said.
In addition, the case was important regarding the question of the Court’s assessment of evidence, in which regard the delegation had taken note of the joint dissenting opinions of Judges Al-Khasawneh and Simma, which suggested that in such cases there was a need for the Court to appoint its own experts to assess evidence. The question of assessing evidence was also noted by then-President of the Court in 2006, he said, but the issue still needed to be addressed. The delegation keenly awaited the Court’s judgment in the Aerial Herbicide Spraying case, among others, and hoped that it would make a contribution to relevant principles.
Another advisory opinion which had been eagerly anticipated in many quarters was that on the legality of Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence. While the release of the decision was not covered in the current report, coming as it did after the period under review, South Africa shared the view of many international law experts that the opinion, as a purely literal interpretation of the question, was “disappointing”. The final analysis did little to assist either the General Assembly or other States grappling with the real question that the drafters of the question had intended the Court to pronounce on. Nonetheless, this delegation was pleased that the various dissenting and separate opinions of the judges provided a rich source of analysis of the legal issues in question, and hoped that delegations, as they continued to discuss and consider the issue of the unilateral declarations of independence, would consult those opinions.
Shalva Tsiskarashvili ( Georgia) cited a case brought to the Court in 2008, which chronicled the latest violation of obligations under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination through orchestrating “ethnic cleansing” and deprivation of Georgians’ fundamental rights, including that to safe return to their homes in South Ossetia and Abkhazia. From 13 to 17 September, the Court held public hearings on that case, where both sides had presented their positions. Jury deliberations were pending and he would refrain from rebutting legal arguments heard earlier in the Assembly.
Georgia’s views had been communicated on the Court’s website. His Government maintained full confidence in the Court and respected its rules of procedure. Indeed, the Court was the symbol of justice for hundreds of thousands of Georgians who had been denied their rights. There was a dispute between Georgia and the Russian Federation over the Convention, and the Court was the most appropriate forum for resolving it. With that, he reiterated Georgia’s strong support for the Court as the United Nations principal judicial organ, reaffirming its vital role in strengthening the international legal order.
CARLOS ARGÜELLO (Nicaragua), stressing the importance of the Court’s efforts in promoting and consolidating the rule of law, said its work was also essential to global security, as it promoted peaceful dispute settlement. However, he regretted that to date, only 66 States had recognized the Court’s compulsory jurisdiction, and he urged all States that had not yet done so to recognize its jurisdiction and thus strengthen the rule of law at the international level. Nicaragua based its international relations on solidarity and reciprocity among nations, which was why it recognized peaceful dispute settlement by means provided by international law and had made use, several times, of the diverse tools that such law provided.
In the last 26 years, Nicaragua had participated in seven major cases on a range of issues, he said, and was involved in a pending case of Nicaragua v. Colombia, on which his Government had held public hearings last week to deal with applications to testify, submitted by Costa Rica and Honduras. Through such actions, Nicaragua had shown its confidence in international justice by responding to that call and making use of international justice. It also had made proposals to promote peaceful dispute settlement, including a 1988 proposal to declare the Decade of International Law, which was to have a universally binding mechanism for peaceful dispute settlement. The underlying reason for that initiative was to recapture the spirit of the first two Peace Conferences in The Hague in 1899 and 1907, which sought to establish a universal and compulsory mechanism for dispute settlement. Perhaps the international environment was still prevailing to make such a move, he said.
HOLGER FEDERICO MARTINSEN (Argentina) recognized the President of the International Court of Justice for his presentation on the report of the Tribunal for its work of the last year, in particular, the Court’s case between Argentina and Uruguay on the construction of pulp mills on the left bank of the Uruguay River, on which the Court had issued its judgment on 20 April. She recalled that Argentina initiated the proceedings regarding Uruguay’s violation of its procedural and substantial obligations under the 1975 Statute of the Uruguay River, when authorizing, unilaterally and without prior consultation, the construction of two pulp mills and a port terminal with disregard for the Statute and significant harm to the Uruguay River. The Court found that Uruguay had repeatedly violated the Statute when failing to inform the Administrative Commission of the Uruguay River (CARU) before granting authorization for the construction of both mills and the port terminal and failing to notify Argentina of the projects through CARU.
She went on to say that, regarding the controversies relating to the environment, the Court should have examined the complex technical problems and arguments with the assistance of experts, in order to form its own opinion on the scientific evidence provided. She suggested that because the Court did not use the tools provided by its own Resolution on Internal Practice in Argentina’s case, it could not establish Uruguay’s violation on the norms of the 1975 Statute and the significant harm already produced to the Uruguay River and its areas of influence. The obligation to cooperate required ongoing monitoring of an industrial facility, such as the Orion (Botnia) mill.
In that regard, she continued, the Court noted the parties to the dispute had a long-standing relationship through CARU regarding the management of the river and the protection of the environment. With the provisions of the 1975 Statute, the parties had found solutions to their differences within its framework without resorting to judicial settlement of disputes until the current case was brought before the Court. In closing, she said Argentina and Uruguay had concluded agreements at the presidential and ministerial levels for implementing a plan for the continuous monitoring of the Orion (Botnia) pulp mill and of its effects on the Uruguay River.
DIEGO MOREJÓN-PAZMIÑO ( Ecuador) said the variety of legal disputes brought before the Court reaffirmed States’ confidence in it as the principal legal organ of the United Nations. One-third of disputes before were in Latin American and Caribbean countries, showing that those nations were firmly committed to the establishment of international law. Ecuador recognized the competence of the Court, based on international law, and underscored the importance attached to its advisory functions, especially its advisory opinions. He agreed with those expressing the need for the Court to be equipped with necessary human and material resources, and was satisfied with the Court’s outreach activities to inform the public of its work. It was no exaggeration to say that the rule of law permeated all activities of the United Nations, from peacekeeping and human rights protection to combating climate change. The Court must play a fundamental role in that work.
CATHERINE ADAMS ( United Kingdom) reaffirmed her country’s strong support for the Court as the principal judicial organ. Four new contentious cases had been initiated this year, underlying the continued confidence States placed in the Court as a forum for dispute resolution. It showed that the International Court of Justice was truly a “world court” whose jurisdiction was respected around the globe. The Court’s increasing workload showed no signs of abating, and the United Kingdom welcomed its commitment to efficiency and re-examination of its working methods. However, the cases referred to the Court were growing in factual and legal complexity, meaning that the body might need to consider further reforms.
The Court’s role could be enhanced if more States accepted its compulsory jurisdiction, which today stood at 66 States. She encouraged other States to accept that jurisdiction, acknowledging that other dispute mechanisms existed. Regarding the unilateral declaration of independence related to Kosovo, she noted the views of others expressed today. The United Kingdom did not dispute that Security Council resolution 1244 (1999) remained in force; however, it had not drawn the same conclusions as others about it. Her Government welcomed that the declaration did not violate international law, which should mark an end to discussions on Kosovo’s status. She reiterated the United Kingdom’s strong appreciation and support for the Court’s work.
Right of Reply
Speaking in exercise of the right of reply, Serbia’s delegate, responding to the United Kingdom’s statement on the international legality of Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence, said opening debate on the Court’s advisory opinion on an issue of great sensitivity and complexity could only be counterproductive and misleading, not only for the aforementioned case but others as well.
Citing paragraph 51, she said the opinion had taken a narrow approach to the General Assembly’s question. The Court had underlined that its opinion did not address the legal consequences of the unilateral declaration of independence of Kosovo or the validity of the legal effects of third States’ recognition of Kosovo. In paragraph 84, the Court had stated it considered that general international law contained no applicable prohibition of declarations of independence, and on that basis, concluded that 17 February 2008 declaration did not violate general international law.
The Court did not consider it necessary to address issues as to whether the unilateral declaration of independence had led to the creation of a State, she said, or the status of the acts of recognition, in answering the Assembly’s question. The Court had specified in paragraph 56 that it was not required to take a position on whether international law conferred a positive entitlement on Kosovo unilaterally to declare its independence or, a fortiori, on whether international law generally conferred an entitlement on entities situated within a State unilaterally to break away from it.
The Court had underlined that it was possible for a particular act, such as a unilateral declaration of independence, not to be in violation of international law, without necessarily constituting the exercise of a right conferred to it, she said. By its advisory opinion, the Court had reaffirmed that Security Council resolution 1244 (1999) and the constitutional framework of Kosovo were in force and continued to apply. It was clear that the province of Kosovo remained a territory subject to an international regime, whose final status was undetermined, since a political process designed to determine Kosovo’s future status, envisaged in resolution 1244 (1999), had not run its course.
Statement by the President of the International Criminal Court
Presenting his report, SANG-HYUN SONG, President of the International Criminal Court, said despite impressive progress, the Court faced significant challenges, especially with respect to the cooperation of States, which was the backbone of its work. The first Review Conference of the Rome Statute, held from 31 May to 11 June this year in Kampala and convened by the Secretary-General, had reached an agreement to adopt a definition of the crime of aggression, but the Court’s ability to exercise jurisdiction over that crime would be subject to a new decision taken after 1 January 2017. Nevertheless, the Conference’s pledging ceremony and stocktaking exercise created significant potential to further enhance effectiveness of the Rome Statute system, he said.
The Conference found that the areas requiring most attention were as follows: cooperation with the Court, strengthening of national jurisdictions under the principle of complementarity and global ratification of the Rome Statute. He went on to update the Assembly on the Court’s activities, telling delegates that its first trial, charging Thomas Lubanga Dylio with recruitment of child soldiers and using them in hostilities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, was approaching its conclusion. Its second trial had begun on 24 November 2009, hearing the case of Germain Katanga and Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui, alleged former military leaders charged with murder, rape, attacks on civilians, the use of children in hostilities and a number of other war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
On the situation in the Central African Republic, Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo was charged with murder, rape and pillage in his alleged capacity as a military commander of the Movement for the Liberation of Congo. His trial was ready to begin 22 November 2010 after the Appeals Chamber last week dismissed a challenge against the admissibility of the case before the Court — an example of the growing body of jurisprudence fortifying the Court’s legal stability. On the situation in Darfur, which was referred by the Security Council, three persons had voluntarily appeared before the Court. In one of those cases, the Pretrial Chamber declined to confirm charges against the suspect. “This clearly demonstrates the total independence of the judges and the Office of the Prosecutor from each other,” he said.
The new investigation that was opened in the past year, concerning the 2007-2008 post-election violence in Kenya, was the first situation brought to the Court at the Prosecutor’s own initiative. Of the four situations before the Court, three were referred by the countries themselves and one by the Security Council, he said. The Prosecutor announced he would present two new cases on the Kenya situation before the end of the year, and had also said publicly he was looking into situations concerning Colombia, Georgia, Afghanistan, Côte d’Ivoire, Palestine and Guinea.
Cooperation with the Court was needed for it to fulfil its mandate, and he said he was “delighted” that less than three weeks ago French authorities had apprehended Callixte Mbarushimana, a Rwandan citizen suspected of being responsible for a wide range of crimes against the civilian population in the Kivu region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Excellent cooperation by France, Germany, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda for the arrest was an example of multilateral collaboration leading to concrete results in pursuit of international justice, he said.
That development provided hope for more stability in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the prevention of future crimes, but yet another commander sought by the Court, Bosco Ntaganda, was still reported to be at large and allegedly contributing to ongoing crimes in Goma. The warrant for Ntaganda’s arrest must be executed and “I call on all relevant actors to cooperate to that effect,” he said. The Court had outstanding arrest warrants against eight persons, including two arrest warrants for Sudanese President Omar Hassan Ahmad Al-Bashir over the situation in Darfur, which had had “devastating effects on victims and communities affected by the crimes under the Court’s jurisdiction”.
In August, the Court had informed the Security Council, as well as the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute, of President Al-Bashir’s visits to two States Parties — Kenya and Chad — despite outstanding arrest warrants against him for genocide. “The situation with respect to the outstanding arrest warrants is deeply troubling,” he said. “If States do not provide the cooperation necessary for the Court’s functioning in accordance with their legal obligations, the [Court] will not be able to fulfil its mandate and impunity will continue to flourish.”
The Court’s valuable engagement with victims was steadily expanding — one of the greatest innovations of the Rome Statute allowed participation of victims in proceedings even when not called as witnesses, he said. In countries where it had cases, the Court informed victims of their rights and helped communities understand its work. Its Trust Fund for Victims collected voluntary contributions for reparations and, importantly, at a very early stage engaged support for victims of crimes in situations before the Court. The fund presently covered 40,000 direct beneficiaries in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, northern Uganda and, as of next year, the Central African Republic.
However, as the Secretary-General said at the opening of the Kampala Review Conference, the Court must have universal support to become an effective deterrent. “While it was remarkable that as many as 114 States from all regions of the globe have joined the Statute, the fact remains that large parts of the world’s population are for the time being outside the protection offered by the [Court] system,” he said, expressing hope that non-States Parties would keep an open mind to ratification of the Statute. The Court was not intended to substitute national justice systems, but was merely a safety net, he said.
Statements on the International Criminal Court
JAN GRAULS (Belgium), speaking on behalf of the European Union, thanked the Court for its report and welcomed the four new States Parties to the Rome Statute, pledging his delegation’s continued efforts to achieve the Court’s universality and preserve the integrity of its founding document. Reviewing the Court’s work over the reporting period, he noted in particular the situation in Darfur, in which the Court took a decision declining to confirm charges against a suspect and issuing a second arrest warrant for President Al-Bashir, among other actions. Moreover, he said, the Chief Prosecutor had initiated preliminary examinations into several incidents which were forcefully condemned by the international community, such as the atrocities committed on 28 September 2009 in Guinea.
Despite difficulties, the past year had seen the Court make fresh progress towards meeting the hopes placed in it by the States Parties and the victims of the most serious crimes. The Court had convened the first Conference to review the Rome Statute in Kampala, Uganda. The participants successfully concluded discussions on the subjects of three amendments to the Rome Statute, including on Article 124 (a provision which allows new States Parties to choose not to have their nationals subject to the Court’s jurisdiction over war crimes for a seven-year period after ratification); on the extension of the Court’s jurisdiction over war crimes in situations of non-international armed conflicts; and on the crime of aggression. The European Union commended the spirit of consensus that had prevailed and had enabled the final agreement to be reached. The European Union also commended the Review’s successful stocktaking of international criminal justice, which addressed four fundamental issues in the Rome Statute’s system.
Nevertheless, he said the Court’s report, while commendable insofar as it described the tribunal’s efforts in fulfilling its mission, raised “serious questions”. The number of acts of violence which continued to be perpetrated, in particular against women and children, including in countries where the Court had a presence, was extremely worrying. It was necessary in that regard to recall the Court’s fundamental principle of complementarity, according to which each State was chiefly responsible for investigating and prosecuting presumed perpetrators of the most serious crimes against the international community. The Court might exercise its powers only in the event that any State was unable or unwilling to do so.
In particular, the report underlined a need to reinforce collective and individual efforts to ensure that the international arrest warrants issued by the Court were enforced. In that regard, he recalled Security Council resolution 1593 (2005), which imposed obligations to cooperate with the Court on Sudan — a non-State Party. The European Union regretted Sudan’s “infringements of its international obligations”, and he said his delegation commended the Kampala Review Conference’s reaffirmation of the need for all States Parties to fully meet their obligations under the Rome Statute. Additionally, unless all stakeholders in the international community, including States Parties and non-States Parties, put up a “united fight”, the objectives of the Rome Statute, and, more generally, the aims of the United Nations Charter towards international peace, security and world well-being, would not be achieved.
LAZAROUS KAPAMBWE (Zambia) speaking on behalf of the African Group, reaffirmed his delegation’s commitment to the universality of the Rome Statue, and called on all States to ratify that Treaty. Turning to the issue of cooperation, he believed the fact that all four of the Court’s current situations were in Africa — three of which were self-referrals — was not a negative reflection on the continent. In fact, it illustrated the high regard that African States had for the promotion and protection of the rule of law in that they had availed themselves of the judicial assistance provided by the Court in complex or politically sensitive cases.
Still, a central complaint by some African officials was that the Court’s exclusive focus on investigations in Africa to date suggested that the continent was being unfairly targeted. Yet, the decision taken by the fifteenth African Union Summit and the visit by Sudanese President Al-Bashir to two States Parties should not obscure the consistent, active backing of the Court among African Governments and civil society across the continent, he said. In August, the Seychelles had ratified the Rome Statute, which brought the number of African States that signed on to the Treaty to 31. Further, at the first Review Conference of the Statute in Kampala, Governments had reinforced strong African support for the Court’s work.
However, he said, the African Union’s concern regarding the Court largely related to Security Council inaction. Indeed, the African Union had premised its call for not cooperating with the Court on the fact that the Council had ignored its 2008 request to defer the case against President Al-Bashir. “Even among officials that strongly support the International Criminal Court, concern has mounted that the Security Council has disrespected the African Union by failing to respond either positively or negatively to its deferral request. Resolution of this issue is the only way that would facilitate cooperation between the African Union and [the Court],” he said, imploring all stakeholders to urge the Security Council to respond to the African Union’s request.
He went on to say that the African Group welcomed the Court’s efforts to further implement its strategic plan and to foster cooperation with States’ international and regional organizations. The Group reiterated its commitment to the objectives of the International Criminal Court and called for the establishment of a suitable mechanism to enhance cooperation between the Court and States Parties. Further, he called for greater balance in recruitment of the International Criminal Court, which should not be based on how much a State contributes to the Court. The Court must remain independent and free from any kind of political interference so that its decisions would be respected.
EDEN CHARLES (Trinidad and Tobago), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said the report before the Assembly conveyed essential information on the Court’s activities for the previous year, not only for States Parties but also for the wider United Nations membership. During the reporting period, the Review Conference in Kampala had offered an opportunity for Member States to recommit themselves to the principles which had led to the adoption and conclusion of the Rome Statute and the establishment of the Court. CARICOM States Parties were represented at the Conference and had showed their resolve to assist the Court in its mandate, prosecute those alleged to have committed grave violations under the Rome Statute, and contribute to the promotion and maintenance of international peace and justice.
He said the principle of cooperation was essential to the long-term success and survival of the Court. Without support in areas such as witness protection, the enforcement of sentences and the execution of outstanding arrest warrants, the Court would not be in a position to bring to justice those who commit war crimes, genocide or crimes against humanity. He went on to say that pursuant to Articles 121 and 123 of the Rome Statute, the Review Conference had considered proposals for amendments submitted by States. It had been gratifying to witness the exchange of views on the various proposals. Though the CARICOM Member States were strong advocates for the removal of Article 124 of the Statute, they realized that the decision on this topic was reached after “tremendous debate” and in the spirit of compromise. CARICOM States hoped that when the matter was reviewed in 2015, States Parties would recognize the provision to be “anachronistic, tantamount to a reservation”, and would therefore agree to its deletion.
He further noted that during the Kampala Conference, the Court saw the end process of the Special Working Group on the Crime of Aggression, as well as other exhaustive discussions over the course of many years. While some remained dissatisfied with the outcome, the CARICOM States were satisfied that the Rome Statute had been duly amended. They waited the convening in 2015 of a meeting of States Parties which would decide whether to activate the jurisdiction of the Court over the crime of aggression, pursuant to the amendment adopted at Kampala. Finally, he stressed that Member States must continue to offer support to the Court to ward off unnecessary criticisms from its detractors, and to uphold their support for ending a culture of impunity. Finally, the CARICOM delegation was elated that its member State, St. Lucia, had become a Party to the Statute during the period under review, and hoped that all other States would follow suit.
KEITH MORRILL (Canada), speaking also on behalf of Australia and New Zealand (CANZ), noted that States Parties at the recent Review Conference held in Kampala, Uganda, had worked in a spirit of compromise with the aim of strengthening the Court and improving the international criminal justice system. The adoption of the provisions on the “crime of aggression” had marked the culmination of years of discussion, and by endorsing the Kampala Declaration, States Parties reaffirmed their commitment to the basic principles of the Rome Statute and the role of the International Criminal Court. In the realm of cooperation, he said this year had seen both accomplishments and challenges. CANZ had commended France for its recent arrest of Callixte Mbarushimana, pursuant to a sealed warrant of arrest issued by the Court.
On the situation in the eastern provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, also on the Court’s docket, he called for an end to the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and intimidation and called for the perpetrators to be brought to justice. In that regard, CANZ was also encouraged by the arrest of Sadoke Kokunda Mayele by United Nations and Congolese forces and was hopeful that recent development could prove a basis for a coordinated response among the International Criminal Court, United Nations and other entities, to ensure accountability and bring justice to victims. While the recent arrests were encouraging, the arrest warrant for Bosco Ntaganda remained outstanding, as did four arrest warrants for the leaders of the Lord’s Resistance Army.
Regarding the arrest warrants pertaining to the situation in Darfur, he reiterated his delegation’s call on all States Parties to fulfil their obligations under the Rome Statute. Looking forward, CANZ anticipated the upcoming ninth Assembly of States Parties and underlined the important role of the Assembly in providing oversight and guidance on matters as described by the Rome Statute. In closing, he said the Court and the Assembly must continue to work together constructively to establish and maintain the framework as a permanent, independent institution that had the respect of the international community.
PARK IN-KOOK ( Republic of Korea) said the Court had contributed to attainment of goals envisioned by the Rome Statute, and he welcomed four new States Parties to that Treaty. The Court had seen notable achievements with its involvement in cases in Uganda, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Central African Republic, Kenya and Sudan. This year, another historic moment had been marked at the Review Conference in Uganda, where key issues for future implementation were discussed. Regarding the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, he recalled that since the first arrest warrant was issued and unsealed by Pretrial Chamber I, the Lubanga trial had been suspended several times. He expressed hope that based on adjustments made in its procedures the Court would proceed accordingly with that and other cases.
Turning to the situation in Darfur, he said international cooperation was still needed and, in that context, underscored the importance of gathering political will in furthering the Court’s work. His Government applauded the Court for providing assistance to the Special Court for Sierra Leone. Further coordination between those bodies was needed. Beyond all scepticism, the Court was established to enshrine the international community’s hope for justice. The Republic of Korea would continue to support the Court as it solidified itself as the sole permanent criminal court.
SHIGEKI SUMI ( Japan) recalled that since the establishment of the Court in 2002, three States Parties had referred their situations to it while the Security Council had referred one situation — that of Darfur. Such progress showed that the Court was on a “growing path”. As the Court’s work continued, he added, one of the most important principles to be kept in mind was that of complementarity. Every State had the duty to exercise its criminal jurisdiction over those responsible for the most serious crimes, he said, and the role of the Court was complementary to such national criminal action. States Parties must “do their best” to exercise their national jurisdiction over a situation before referring it to the Court.
Also important was the issue of cooperation of States, which had been reaffirmed by the experience of the Court. In situations where cooperation by States had not been forthcoming, he said, the Court had faced serious challenges. Thus, such cooperation, in particular regarding the arrest of suspects and the collection of evidence, was essential for the effective investigation and prosecution of cases by the Court. Emphasizing as well the importance of the “efficient and effective” administration of the Court, Japan further highlighted the historic significance of new achievements made at the Review Conference of the Rome Statute held in Kampala, Uganda. In particular, the representative praised the codification of the “crime of aggression” and stated that in order to make that success legally stabilized, States Parties must continue their efforts to avoid to the maximum extent “legal ambiguity” in the adopted amendments, taking into account the nature of international criminal justice, which required “strict legal rigor”.
Finally, he was pleased to see the steady increase in the number of States Parties to the Rome Statute to 114, but stated that in order to enhance the role of the Court in the international community, its membership “should be universal”. To this end, Japan, in co-sponsorship with the Government of Malaysia and the Asian-African Legal Consultative Organization (AALCO), organized a round-table meeting of legal experts in Malaysia this year. The Republic of Korea, Kenya and Japan each shared their experiences on the ratification of the Rome Statute with non-States Parties at the meeting. Japan stated that it would continue similar efforts to increase the number of States Parties, particularly from the Asian region, towards the goal of achieving the universality of the Court.
SOHA GENDI ( Egypt) said that international criminal tribunals were becoming increasingly important in the enforcement of the rule of law, aiming to maintain international peace and security. The role of such courts was complementary to that of the national judiciary, which had the inherent jurisdiction to prosecute its citizens who committed such crimes. Egypt was of the view that there was an increasing need to adhere to the established norms of international law that the implementation of Conventions was conditioned by State’s accession. Therefore, States should not be obligated to follow the provisions of the Rome Statute if they did not explicitly, and upon their own free will, accept to do so. Egypt took note of the outcomes of the Kampala Review Conference on the Rome Statute, where States Parties had made significant pledges on issues such as a definition of the “crime of aggression”.
Egypt also stressed the importance of the International Criminal Court continuing to pursue a balanced approach in its work by adopting a policy that accentuated its judicial nature and avoided politicization. Reaffirming the importance of the Court’s strict adherence to transparency, Egypt noted that procedures for investigating, gathering evidence and authenticating documents needed to be improved. The Egyptian Government also expressed its concern over the consequences of the indictment of the Court against the President of Sudan, taking into consideration the delicate nature of the peace process under way in the country, and supported the African Union’s call to defer the process initiated by the Court. Finally, he reaffirmed the responsibility of the international community to follow up on the recommendations of the Report of the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, noting that the Court should ensure that no one enjoyed impunity and should uphold the establishment of legal norms that everyone strove to implement, without exception.
CHRISTIAN WENAWESER ( Liechtenstein) noted that the successful outcome of the Kampala Review Conference was a major milestone in the development of international criminal justice. States Parties were able to complete the work left unfinished by the Rome Conference by adopting amendments on the crime of aggression, said the representative. The Government of Liechtenstein had already taken a decision in principle to ratify the amendments on the crime of aggression as soon as possible, and hoped that other States Parties would do the same. The delegation was further encouraged by the strong participation of non-States Parties in the discussions in Kampala and hoped that some of them would find the amendments useful on their way to joining the Rome Statute.
Noting that the expanding activities of the Court had evoked both strong support and adverse reactions by stakeholders involved in various situations dealt with by the Court, he said that such reactions should not be a distraction from a significant underlying consensus in the international community that there could be no impunity for the worst crimes of international concern. He further stated that the discussions in Kampala on peace and justice underlined that principle, and that his delegation expected that the greatest area of progress for the Court would be made in the area of complementarity, where States Parties reaffirmed the primary responsibility of States to prosecute perpetrators of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
In the area of cooperation, which was another area where progress could and must be made, he welcomed the continued cooperation extended by Member States in particular with regard to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but remained concerned by the “lack of support” for the Court’s activities in a number of other situations, including the investigation mandated by the Security Council regarding the Darfur region. Further, Liechtenstein was pleased that the “paradigm shift” reflected in the Rome Statute towards a more “victim-centred” approach continued to be put into practice, and stated its support for the activities of the Trust Fund for Victims and for the Court as a whole.
EBENEZER APPREKU ( Ghana), aligning with the African Group of States Parties to the Rome Statute, said the Review Conference had offered both States Parties and non-States Parties a “rare moment” to take stock of that Treaty system. The challenge now was to address, in a dispassionate manner, lingering issues from that Conference and ensure a better understanding of the agreed amendments regarding the crime of aggression, including the Security Council’s role in determining that act, the absence of which could make such a charge more difficult to sustain. The upcoming Assembly of States Parties in New York should provide another platform to continuing that dialogue.
Supporting more interaction between the Court and Assembly of Parties regarding the principle of judicial independence and impartiality, he said the principle of complementarity, which underpinned the Rome Statute, meant that capacity-building at the national level must also be given top priority. While perpetrators of serious crimes must be brought to justice, equal attention must be paid to creating conditions to address the root causes of conflicts, including enhancing the rule of law, with the aim of preventing violent conflicts that fostered the very crimes the Rome Statute was meant to punish or deter. Commending the Secretary-General and the United Nations Legal Counsel for promoting cooperation between the Court and the world body, he also thanked Uganda for hosting the Review Conference on African soil, underscoring the continent’s dedication to advancing the rule of law, justice and accountability. African States had been instrumental in bringing the Rome Statute into force. Going forward, key challenges would include promoting the universality of the Rome Statute.
JOEL HERNÁNDEZ ( Mexico) celebrated Bangladesh, Saint Lucia, Seychelles and Moldova in joining the Rome Statute, which now claimed 114 States Parties. That was a clear indication of the universalization of the Court, he said, noting that this year was important for international criminal justice, as well as for the system built upon the Rome Statute. The celebration of the first Review Conference and its success was evidence of that, as was the adoption by consensus of the amendments to the Statute, especially those related to the “crime of aggression”. In Kampala, the challenges of international criminal justice were analysed, and now it was up to the States Parties to the Rome Statute to put into practice the outcomes there.
Continuing, he stressed that the Review Conference should be seen as the beginning of a permanent process of evaluation and improvement of the international criminal justice system that would allow strengthening of the Court and its founding Rome Statute. Mexico believed that the Statute would not be complete until the use of nuclear weapons was typified as a crime of war. It had been six years since the establishment of the judicial system called for by the Statute, and there was still much to be done: nine arrest warrants were still to be executed and the challenges at the field level were “countless”. Non-cooperation with the Court was a breach of the Rome Statute, and in some cases, was a violation of the United Nations Charter.
Thus, he said, such non-cooperation required the adoption of strong measures by the Assembly of States Parties, and in some cases by the Security Council. He was convinced that the International Criminal Court faced challenges in becoming a role model for justice and efforts must therefore be made to ensure that it was a solid, efficient and effective Court. Now almost 10 years from the establishment of the Court, the time had come to assess its institutional operation. Besides becoming a role model for justice, the Court should also seek to become a model of human resources management and prudent financial administration.
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