President of International Court of Justice

H.E. Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf

Statement Summary

ABDULQAWI AHMED YUSUF, President of the International Court of Justice, said the decision of the States participating at the 1945 San Francisco Conference to replace the rule of force by the rule of law has made all the difference for humanity in the past 75 years.  It led to the application of the principle of equal rights and self‑determination of peoples, the prohibition of the use of force among States and the protection of human rights.  While it is sometimes easy, he noted, to take for granted or forget about the significance of international law, no State, however powerful, can provide security and prosperity to its people without international cooperation.

States, he added, are brought closer together not only by diplomatic relations, trade and the technological advances in transportation, telecommunications and cyberspace; they are also bound together by the web of rules that make these interactions possible.  These rules are not imposed on States by an outside legislator, he said, stressing that they are “designed and assented to by the States themselves”.  An international rule of law cannot, however, exist without a judicial body for the resolution of disputes.  It is for this purpose that the drafters of the Charter established the International Court of Justice, he reminded the Assembly, also pointing to the annexation of the Statute of the Court to the Charter of the United Nations.

The high quality of the work of the Court in the past 75 years, he added, has enabled it to acquire a growing confidence among States.  As a result, in recent years, it acquired a heavy caseload and the number of cases submitted to it in the last 25 years was at the same level as those referred to it in its first 50 years of existence.  The increased reliance on the rule of law in international relations as opposed to arbitrary power and the settlement of disputes by peaceful means rather than by force are the greatest success stories of the United Nations.  The Court stands ready to continue its contribution to the protection and advancement of the international rule of law and to the peaceful settlement of disputes among nations, he said.