Speakers expressed unanimous satisfaction with the quality, independence, transparency and efficiency of the work of the International Court of Justice, and greater nuance in their responses to the International Criminal Court as the General Assembly took up the reports of those two bodies today.
Addressing the Assembly for the first time in his capacity as President of the International Court of Justice, Ronny Abraham said that body, commonly referred to as the World Court, had successfully faced each new challenge brought by the increasing complexity of the legal relations between States, and would keep rising to such challenges, in order to fulfil its role as the principal judicial organ of the United Nations.
It was a point also noted by Mogens Lykketoft, the President of the General Assembly, in brief remarks made as he opened the meeting. Since its creation 70 years ago, the World Court had played a crucial role in advancing the rule of law at the international level, and its judgements and advisory opinions promoted international law worldwide, he said. The increased level of activity of the World Court demonstrated that States from all regions of the world had strong confidence in the Court and its capacity to deliver justice for all.
The representative of Iran, speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, noted that the Security Council had not sought advisory opinions of the body since 1970. He urged the Council to make greater use of the World Court as a source of such opinions and interpretation of relevant norms of international law and on controversial issues. The Movement also called on Israel to respect the 9 July 2004 Advisory Opinion on the “Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory” and urged all States to ensure respect for its provisions, a call which was echoed by the representative of Cuba.
Indeed, the importance of advisory opinions on legal questions referred to the World Court could not be overstated, said South Africa’s representative, associating with the Non-Aligned Movement and speaking on behalf of the African States. It was therefore rather disappointing that during the reporting period, no requests for advisory opinions had been made, he said. Sudan’s speaker added that the Assembly and specialized agencies of the Organization should seek advisory opinions pertaining to their programmes. He also called on those countries which had not done so to recognize the compulsory jurisdiction of the World Court, a point also made by the representative of Germany.
A positive response to that call was provided by the delegate of Romania, who told the Assembly that on 23 June, Romania had accepted the compulsory jurisdiction of the World Court, becoming the seventy-second State to do so. That decision had been put to public debate by his country’s Foreign Ministry and had received widespread public support.
The representatives of Chile and Bolivia also spoke about their direct experience with the work of the World Court, in light of a case the two countries had before it. Noting that the body was one of the best means for the peaceful solution of disputes, Bolivia’s representative said that in the case submitted by his Government against Chile, whose jurisdiction was recently accepted by the World Court, Bolivia would like to underline that there was only one way of resolving outstanding issues, which was through negotiation. Chile’s representative said that the freedom of the parties to initiate negotiations could not be limited by alleged obligations, which were devoid of any legal substance.
Nicaragua’s representative, for his part, noted that the contentious proceedings on the World Court’s agenda had to do with five Latin American States, the highest number in any region. The World Court had the smallest budget in the Organization and was its most cost-effective organ. Given the progressive complexity of the cases heard by the body, Members States should discuss greater financial support for it in the Fifth Committee.
Speaking concretely about another case before the World Court, the representative of Thailand said that its latest judgement in the case on the Application of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (Croatia versus Serbia) rendered on 3 February, was truly a milestone in the development of international law, human rights, and international humanitarian law. Also, the new case on economic rights would diversify the World Court’s caseload.
The other issue on the agenda item for discussion in the Assembly today was the report of the International Criminal Court, whose President, Silvia Fernandez de Gurmendi, said the body had a central role in upholding the widespread expectation that atrocious crimes could not go unpunished. The Criminal Court highly valued its relationship with the United Nations. However, there was a continuing lack of full cooperation on two situations that the Council formally referred to the Prosecutor, namely Darfur and Libya. During the reporting period, the Criminal Court made three judicial findings of non-cooperation, two with respect to Sudan and one with respect to Libya, bringing the number of non-cooperation findings referred to the Council to 11. For the body to effectively discharge its mandate, full compliance with relevant Council resolutions was required. The Criminal Court was not in a position to obtain that compliance and looked to the Council for support.
The representative of Trinidad and Tobago, speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), expressed concern that some States failed to honour their legally binding obligations to cooperate with the Criminal Court in the execution of outstanding arrest warrants, in order to bring to justice perpetrators of the most severe crimes of concern to the international community. The Criminal Court’s workload had significantly increased over the past year yet there had not been a similar increase in its resources. Next year would be the busiest year of the Court’s history, with an unprecedented four cases, taking place simultaneously, covering more than 10,000 victims.
It was a point dovetailing exactly with the statement of the European Union’s representative, who underlined that in light of that increased workload, the efficient and effective functioning of the Criminal Court was crucial. The international community must work tirelessly to ensure the universality of the Rome Statute, which was essential for ensuring accountability for the most serious crimes. The European Union had taken note of the decision of the Criminal Court Prosecutor to open a preliminary examination of the situation in Palestine.
Also speaking at today’s debate were representatives of Australia (also on behalf of Canada and New Zealand), India, China, United States, Mexico, Sudan, Japan, Algeria, France, Peru, Cyprus, Philippines, Nigeria, Russian Federation, Costa Rica, Croatia, Timor-Leste, Malaysia, Morocco, Finland (on behalf of the Nordic countries), Switzerland, New Zealand, Guatemala, Slovenia, and Estonia.
The Assembly will meet again on Friday, November 6 at 10 a.m. to continue and conclude its discussion of the report of the International Criminal Court.
The General Assembly met today to consider the work of the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court over the past year. Before it were the reports of the International Court of Justice for 1 August 2014 – 31 July 2015 (document A/70/4); 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/70/327); the Secretary-General’s note transmitting the report of the International Criminal Court on its activities in 2014/15 (document A/70/350); the Secretary-General’s report on information relevant to the implementation of article 3 of the Relationship Agreement between the United Nations and the International Criminal Court (document A/70/317) and his report on expenses incurred and reimbursement received by the United Nations in connection with assistance provided to the International Criminal Court (document A/70/346).
International Court of Justice
MOGENS LYKKETOFT (Denmark), President of the General Assembly, said that since its creation 70 years ago, the International Court of Justice had played a crucial role in advancing the rule of law at the international level, and its judgements and advisory opinions promoted international law worldwide. The increased level of activity of the World Court was an indication of the growing desire of States to settle their international disputes by peaceful means, in accordance with the United Nations Charter. It also demonstrated that States from all regions of the world had strong confidence in the Court and its capacity to deliver justice for all. The seventieth anniversary in 2016 of the World Court’s first session would be an occasion to recognize the fundamental role that the principal judicial organ of the United Nations had played in the maintenance of international peace and security, as well as the challenges that lay ahead and how best to overcome them.
RONNY ABRAHAM, addressing the Assembly for the first time as President of the International Court of Justice, said that in the course of the period covered by the World Court’s report, between 1 August 2014 and 31 July 2015, a total of 14 contentious cases had been pending before the body, in three of which the World Court had held hearings. Reviewing several cases between South American countries, he informed the Assembly of where in the proceedings the World Court found itself. During the period under review, the body had delivered its Judgment on the merits in the case concerning Application of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (Croatia v. Serbia).
Giving details of the course of the case, and the Parties’ objections and claims filed, he said that the World Court began by setting out the historical and factual background to the case, and then turned to the questions of its jurisdiction and the admissibility of the Parties’ respective claims. Reviewing the applicable law in the case, namely the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, the World Court had observed that genocide contained two constituent elements, namely the physical element of actus reus (the acts perpetrate), and the mental element or mens rea (the intent to destroy the group as such).
Turning to the World Court’s consideration of the merits of that case, he said that in the absence of proof of the necessary specific intent to destroy the protected group, in whole or in part, the World Court found that Croatia had failed to substantiate its allegation that genocide or other breaches of the Convention had been committed. It accordingly rejected Croatia’s claim in its entirety. Regarding Serbia’s counterclaim in the case, he said the World Court had found that neither genocide nor other violations of the Genocide Convention had been proved, and accordingly rejected Serbia’s counterclaim in its entirety.
He then turned to a second Judgment delivered by the World Court, in a case concerning Obligation to Negotiate Access to the Pacific Ocean (Bolivia v. Chile). Giving details of that case, including the objections of each party and responses to the latter, he said that in its Judgment, the Court did not hear the arguments of the Parties on the merits of the case, but that the Judgment it delivered was strictly for the purpose of establishing whether or not it had jurisdiction to entertain the case brought before it by Bolivia.
Having completed his account of the two Judgments delivered by the Court, he turned to the other decisions taken during the past year, and after remarking on a case concerning Timor-Leste and Australia, spoke about the new cases submitted. Somalia had instituted proceedings against Kenya with regard to “a dispute concerning maritime delimitation in the Indian Ocean”, and the World Court had decided to resume proceedings in the case concerning Armed Activities on the Territory of the Congo (Democratic Republic of the Congo v. Uganda) with regard to the question of reparations.
Currently there were 12 cases on the World Court’s docket, he said. Having succeeded in eliminating the judicial backlog it was facing until a few years ago, the World Court would continue its practice of dealing with several cases concurrently. The World Court had successfully faced each new challenge brought by the increasing complexity of the legal relations between States, and would keep rising to such challenges, in order to fulfil its role as the principal judicial organ of the United Nations. The World Court’s seventieth birthday, in April 2016, would be celebrated by a formal sitting in The Hague, as well as a seminar on legal themes related to the body’s work. Those activities would present an opportunity to celebrate what had been achieved over the past 70 years and to reflect on the new challenges facing the World Court.
HOSSEIN GHARIBI (Iran), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, commended the International Court of Justice for promoting the peaceful settlement of international disputes in accordance with the United Nations Charter and the Statute of the World Court. The Security Council had not sought advisory opinions of the body since 1970. The Movement urged the Council to make greater use of the World Court as a source of advisory opinions and interpretation of relevant norms of international law and on controversial issues. The Movement also called on the Assembly and other organs and specialized agencies of the Organization to request advisory opinions of the World Court on legal questions arising from the scope of their activities.
The Movement underscored the importance of the World Court’s advisory opinion of 8 July 1996 on the “Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons”, he said. It also called on Israel to respect the 9 July 2004 advisory opinion on the “Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory” and urged all States to ensure respect for its provisions.
JEREMIAH N. KINGSLEY MAMABOLO (South Africa), speaking for the African Group and associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, commended States for referring disputes with weighty political issues to the World Court. The number of cases pending reflected the esteem given to that body. While its determination that there was an obligation to cooperate was based on treaty obligation, the World Court had clearly drawn on general principles, including the principle of prevention, enunciated in its decision regarding “the Corfu Channel” and in the advisory opinion on “the Use or Threat of Use of Nuclear Weapons”. In the 8 July 1996 advisory opinion, the World Court concluded that there existed an obligation to pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all aspects under strict and effective international control.
He said the Group looked forward to the World Court’s judgements on a case in which the Marshall Islands invoked breaches of article 6 of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) by the United Kingdom, as well as the questions of the World Court’s jurisdiction and admissibility of its application in a case involving Pakistan. The importance of advisory opinions on legal questions referred to the World Court could not be overstated. It was therefore rather disappointing that during the reporting period, no requests for advisory opinions had been made.
KATRINA COOPER (Australia), speaking also for Canada and New Zealand, said the World Court’s demanding and diverse caseload demonstrated its wide appeal and highlighted its important role in promoting the rule of law. Over the past year, cases before it continued to raise issues at the forefront of international law. Greater acceptance of its compulsory jurisdiction contributed to the strengthening of the rule of law internationally by broadening the options available to States to ensure the peaceful settlement of disputes. It also helped the World Court to more effectively fulfil its role by permitting it to focus on the substance of disputes more quickly. She urged Member States that had not done so to deposit with the Secretary-General a declaration of acceptance of the World Court’s compulsory jurisdiction.
SUPRIYA SADANAND SULE, Member of Parliament of India, said the World Court had been entrusted with the task of the peaceful settlement of disputes and had fulfilled that task admirably since its establishment. It had a well-deserved reputation as an impartial institution maintaining the highest legal standards in accordance with its mandate under the Charter. The number, nature and variety of cases it dealt with were evidence of its importance, and the judgments it delivered played an important role in the interpretation and clarification of the rule of international law. Its universality was evident from the fact that States from across all continents submitted cases to it for adjudication. She shared the World Court’s concern on health risks due to the presence of asbestos in the Peace Palace and supported all efforts to deal with it.
XU HONG (China) said the World Court had reached 120 verdicts and issued 27 advisory opinions on important issues, including the non-use of force, non-interference in internal affairs, diplomatic and consular relations and decolonization, over nearly 70 years of its existence. It had applied, interpreted, clarified or confirmed the relevant principles of international law and fundamental norms of international relations, thus contributing to the further clarification of norms governing state-to-state relations. China stood for proper settlement through negotiations, dialogue and consultations. The selection and application of means of dispute settlement should be made in strict accordance with the principle of sovereign equality and in full respect for the wish of the States concerned. China was committed to settling disputes through friendly consultations.
CARLOS ARGUELLO (Nicaragua), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, said the World Court’s increased caseload demonstrated the trust afforded to it by Member States. Nicaragua reaffirmed the World Court’s flagship role in the peaceful resolution of disputes. Two more States had recently declared the World Court’s compulsory jurisdiction. Nicaragua had always complied with its international obligations and the judgements of the World Court. The contentious proceedings on the World Court’s agenda had to do with five Latin American States, the highest number in any region. The World Court had the smallest budget in the Organization and it was its most cost-effective organ. Given the progressive complexity of the cases heard by the World Court and its financial challenges, Members States should discuss financial support for it in the Fifth Committee. Countries should also contribute to the Secretary-General’s trust fund.
ION GALEA (Romania) said the World Court’s report on its activities from 1 August 2014 to 31 July 2015 was complete, comprehensive and substantial. Its broad range of cases, including the resolution of maritime disputes and nuclear disarmament showed the confidence that Member States had in its work. The World Court had an essential role in the promotion of rule of law and the supremacy of international law. In 2015, Romania had participated in the life of the World Court in the ruling on the maritime delimitation of Black Sea. On 23 June, Romania had accepted the compulsory jurisdiction of the World Court, becoming the seventy-second State to do so. That decision was put to public debate by his country’s Foreign Ministry. The decision had received widespread public support.
CASSANDRA BUTTS (United States) said that in reviewing the report of the World Court, it was striking how productive it continued to be. With 12 cases in total, the World Court was commended for its increased efficiency and prompt responses, particularly in consideration of the growing complexity of cases. Those efforts would bolster confidence in the World Court and provide States with the opportunity to resolve disputes before they escalated. The World Court had taken up a wide range of issues, from genocide to border disputes. The World Court’s continued public outreach to educate society was also praised, as were the efforts the body had made to become more transparent, such as making some of its meetings viewable via Webcast. As the seventieth anniversary of the World Court approached, a unique opportunity to reflect was presented. In its seven decades of work, the World Court had contributed immensely to the understanding of international law. The United States was pleased to join others in celebrating and applauding the World Court’s work.
ALEJANDRO ALDAY (Mexico) expressed sincere appreciation to the World Court for the difficult work carried out as indicated in the report. Mexico welcomed the renewal of the World Court which took place during the period under review. Expressing appreciation to judges who were leaving their permanent legacy to the body, he added that its intense and sustained activity reflected the confidence of the international community in the World Court as the best mechanism for the peaceful settlement of disputes. The body played a major role in the promotion and validity of the rule of law at the international level. There were two fundamental themes that arose, which were the need for more States to accept the compulsory jurisdiction of the World Court in accordance with its Statute, and compliance with the judgments of the World Court. The Court had an essential role to play in the development of international law, which led to the enrichment of international law and helped avoid its fragmentation.
VIRACHAI PLASAI (Thailand) said the latest judgement of the World Court in the case on the Application of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (Croatia versus Serbia) rendered on 3 February was truly a milestone in the development of international law, human rights, and international humanitarian law. It provided clarification on the terms of Article II of the Convention in particular regarding acta reus and dolus specialis of the crime of genocide. Also, the new case on economic rights would diversify the World Court’s caseload. Thailand commended its efforts to promote transparency in proceedings by the use of technology such as recordings of rulings and judgements, and online data. That made it possible to expand the international community’s understanding of international law.
IDREES M.A. SAEED (Sudan) associating with the Non-Aligned Movement and the African Group, appreciated the work of the World Court in the peaceful settlement of disputes. It played a crucial role and had a heavy workload which required further political and financial support. The increased workload of the World Court reflected the trust afforded to it by the international community. Its settlement of disputes was carried out with integrity and independence. He called on those countries which had not done so to recognize the compulsory jurisdiction of the World Court. The Council had not sought advisory opinions from the World Court in many years and should do so. Similarly, the Assembly and other specialized agencies of the Organization should seek advisory opinions pertaining to their programmes.
SACHA S. LLORENTTY SOLÍZ (Bolivia) said that the World Court was one of the best means for the peaceful solution of disputes. Urging all States to honour the jurisdiction of the World Court in conformity with the Charter, it was noted that resorting to judicial proceedings did not imply enmity between States. The fact that the World Court was deliberating proceedings was an indication of its universal character. In the case submitted by Bolivia against Chile, whose jurisdiction was recently accepted by the World Court, Bolivia would like to underline that there was only one way of resolving outstanding issues, which was through negotiation.
MOTOHIDE YOSHIKAWA (Japan) said the World Court was the only international court which had universal jurisdiction, in terms of the number of State Parties to its Statute and the diversity of its subject matter. All questions of international legal nature could be submitted to it and all Member States were ipso facto Parties to the Statutes. From 1947 until today, 161 cases had been entered in the World Court’s general list and 149 cases had been resolved. Those achievements demonstrated the World Court had played a constructive role in the field of peaceful settlement of international disputes for seven decades. Japan asked more States to recognize the body’s compulsory jurisdiction. The international community also had enjoyed the remarkable development of many peaceful means of dispute settlements, such as the International Tribunal for Law of the Sea, arbitral tribunals, international investment tribunals and the dispute settlement system of the World Trade Organization (WTO). Japan welcomed the trend of States to use these peaceful means of dispute settlement and hoped the effectiveness of international law would be further strengthened.
MEHDI REMAOUN(Algeria), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement and the African Group, said that despite the establishment of many specialized jurisdictions at the international and regional levels to address emerging issues, the World Court remained the only one to enjoy universality. It was important for all States to abide by their legal obligations and comply with the decisions of the World Court in cases to which they were party. In addition, the United Nations, particularly the Council and the specialized agencies, should request advisory opinions from that body on legal questions. “The high moral and legal value of the World Court’s advisory opinions would certainly promote both […] international peace [and] security and rule of law,” he said, as he called for respecting all its advisory and legal opinions.
MICHAEL KOCH (Germany) said that the World Court made a crucial contribution to the maintenance of international peace and security by ensuring that international disputes were settled by peaceful means in accordance with international law. Germany reiterated its strong support for the World Court, and added that while compliance was crucial it was unfortunately still far from universal. Compliance with decisions of the World Court and other international tribunals was not a courtesy, but a legal obligation incumbent on parties. Many Member States of the United Nations still did not recognize the jurisdiction of the World Court as compulsory, and they were called on to do their part.
FRANÇOIS ALABRUNE (France) said that the number of cases inscribed on the World Court’s list testified to the confidence States had in the office of the World Court. The judgments and decisions of the body could contribute to easing political tensions between States and help them find more peaceful means to resolving differences. The French delegation recalled that the use of English and French in the work of the World Court helped improve the quality and accuracy of its jurisprudence.
MANUEL PÍREZ PÉREZ (Cuba), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, recognized the work of the World Court and its important role in the development of international law. A high number of its cases involved Latin American countries. However, there was some criticism regarding its effectiveness and the enforceability of its decisions. The refusal by certain States to accept its judgements, invoking the power of veto in the Council, showed the World Court’s imperfections. There was a need for reform in that regard. The Advisory Opinion of 8 July 1996 on the Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons was important for negotiations on nuclear disarmament. Cuba called for the implementation of the 9 July 2004 Advisory Opinion on the Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
CLAUDIO TRONCOSO (Chile) noted the World Court’s judgment on the preliminary objection raised by his country in the case brought before it concerning the “Obligation to negotiate access to the Pacific Ocean (Bolivia v. Chile)”. In that judgment, the Court had ruled that, even assuming that the existence of an obligation to negotiate were to be established, a matter which would be the subject of proceedings on the merits, it would not be for the World Court to predetermine the outcome of any negotiation that would take place resulting from that obligation. Furthermore, the freedom of the parties to initiate negotiations could not be limited by alleged obligations, which were devoid of any legal substance. He also spoke of the need for complete versions in Spanish of the World Court’s judgments and advisory opinions to enhance awareness of its rulings towards the wider dissemination of international law.
GUSTAVO MEZA-CUADRA (Peru) said that the World Court played a fundamental role and made a major contribution to upholding the rule of law. The sustained work of the World Court was the expression of the prestige which that body of the United Nations enjoyed. It was thanks to the World Court’s efforts that it had been possible to peacefully resolve issues. The various measures implemented to increase the World Court’s effectiveness had accelerated the judicial proceedings in dealing with cases. Peru welcomed the seventieth anniversary of the World Court, and would provide support for that celebration through the country’s embassy in The Hague.
CHRISTINA HROUREAS (Cyprus) said that the World Court’s role could be best achieved through the acceptance of its compulsory jurisdiction by all States, as recommended by Assembly resolution 69/123. With trust in the judicial body’s capacity to deliver justice, Cyprus accepted that jurisdiction in 2002, becoming one of the 72 countries to do so. A welcome development was the continued and increasing recourse to the World Court, in parallel with other methods of dispute resolution. In particular, its decisions had contributed significantly to the development of the law of the sea. Of particular importance were the current contentious proceedings on sovereignty over disputed territories, international law obligation to negotiate in good faith and maritime delimitation disputes. A ruling on Nicaragua’s activities carried out in the border area between Costa Rica and that country was essential as it was to adjudge on sovereignty over the disputed territory and territorial integrity. The World Court’s pronouncements on the issues of occupation and territorial integrity were central to international peace and security.
LOURDES ORTIZ YPARRAGUIRRE (PHILIPPINES), associating his country with the statement of the Non-Aligned Movement, said in the period under review the World Court had 12 cases, ranging from territorial and maritime disputes to unlawful use of force to genocide. The sovereign Parties to those cases came from all over the world, nearly half from the Americas and a third from Africa. Their example contributed to the progressive development of international law and encouraged the others to repose trust in international adjudication, including by the World Court. The 1982 Manila Declaration on the Peaceful Settlement of International Disputes reflected the international community’s increasing reliance on the rule of law as a cornerstone, not only of the peaceful settlement of disputes, but the maintenance of international peace and security. The Philippines reiterated that only through the rule of law in international relations could the international community guarantee the respect, order and stability sought by the peoples of the United Nations.
USMAN SARKI (Nigeria), associating with the African Group, commended the World Court for measures it had taken in recent years to enhance efficiency, enabling it to effectively manage its increasing workload. The number, diversity and geographical scope of cases adjudicated by it attested to its increasing relevance both as an organ and instrument in the peaceful settlement of disputes. Nigeria welcomed the World Court’s publicising of its decisions through modern information and communication technology. Those efforts served to promote greater transparency in its activities. However, it was concerning that only 72 States had so far made declarations recognizing its jurisdiction. Member States who had not yet done so were encouraged to subscribe to its jurisdiction as that would strengthen the World Court’s ability to promote international justice and the peaceful settlement of disputes.
EVGENY T. ZAGAYNOV (Russian Federation) noted the high level of trust that the international community afforded the World Court and said that its judgements and advisory opinions served as guides for political and judicial decisions in many countries. Over the past few years the World Court had continued to work intensely against the backdrop of an increased scope and number of cases. The World Court had heard cases on economic rights, environmental damage, disarmament and international humanitarian law among others. The Russian Federation noted the varied rulings of the body, including on the Application of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. His country commended the efforts of the World Court to improve its effectiveness despite the rapid pace of its judicial proceedings. He also commended the World Court for broadly disseminating knowledge about its work and publishing its judgements.
JUAN C. MENDOZA-GARCÍA(Costa Rica) said that during the reporting period, the work of the World Court was very intense. Cases before it came from every continent, which was a demonstration of the World Court’s universal jurisdiction. The role of the World Court in upholding international peace and security and promoting the rule of law was crucial. Hence, the responsibility lay with Member States in supporting the World Court in its task. Calling for the Organization to ensure that the World Court would be able to respond with complete procedural and judicial independence, he said that an essential requirement to strengthen the rule of law and the World Court itself was for States to act in good faith and respect the body’s decisions and findings, as well as all measures imposed. His delegation welcomed the fact that during 2015, Greece and Romania had deposited statements recognizing the World Court’s compulsory jurisdiction.
VLADIMIR DROBNJAK (Croatia) said the World Court, in the reporting period, had rendered its judgment in the case brought before it by his country and had deliberated in a number of other cases raised before it by States. In order for States to be willing to turn to judicial settlement and choose a legal framework over any other, they needed to have confidence that their disputes would be decided upon competently, independently and impartially, and with the highest legal, ethical and professional standards. Noting that the entire architecture of international adjudication rested upon that “pivotal promise”, he expressed his country’s support to the World Court and its important work.
SOFIA BORGES (Timor-Leste), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, highlighted the confidence and trust placed in the World Court particularly by developing countries and small States. Her country supported the body as exemplified by the case brought before it entitled “Questions relating to the Seizure and Detention of Certain Documents and Data” (Timor-Leste versus Australia). In its role in promoting international law, the World Court had contributed to its development in the areas of interference in the domestic affairs of States, the violation of territorial integrity and sovereignty and economic rights, among others.
CHEONG LOON LAI (Malaysia) associated with the Non-Aligned Movement and said that the increasing number of cases that the World Court had before it was further testament to the faith and confidence that the international community had in its ability to discharge its adjudicative functions fairly and impartially. It was due to a shared commitment to the peaceful resolution of disputes, and confidence in the World Court’s fullest application of the rule of law, that Malaysia and its immediate neighbours had agreed to submit themselves to the jurisdiction of the World Court in two cases regarding disputes on the sovereignty over certain maritime features. Malaysia’s confidence in the impartiality of the adjudication process was reflected by his country’s full acceptance of, adherence to and respect for the decisions of the World Court.
ATLASSI MOHAMMED (Morocco) said that the World Court, in its capacity as the sole universal international jurisdiction with competence in judgments and making advisory opinions, dealt with disputes ranging from territorial and maritime disputes to genocide to conservation on biological resources. The Council and the Assembly as well as the other United Nations organs were authorized to ask the World Court for advisory opinions. As the judicial organ par excellence of the United Nations system, the World Court had an important role to play in peacefully settling disputes. Many disputes had been resolved through the simple fact that one of the parties had suggested submitting the matter to the World Court. The body contributed to bolstering and clarifying the rule of law for the benefit of peace. The World Court’s jurisprudence had broadly contributed to rules of international law.
The Assembly, acting without a vote, then took note of the report of the International Court of Justice for 1 August 2014 – 31 July 2015 (document A/70/4).
International Criminal Court
SILVIA FERNANDEZ DE GURMENDI, President of the International Criminal Court, said the body had a central role in upholding the widespread expectation that atrocious crimes could not go unpunished. To fulfil its mandate, the body relied heavily on the cooperation of States and organizations. Its main priority was to enhance its effectiveness and efficiency. In the past few months, judges in particular had made unprecedented efforts to expedite the criminal process by adopting best practices and revising working methods, achieving positive results in that regard.
The Criminal Court had reached several milestones in 2015, she said. It had issued its first two final appeal judgements on the merits, as well as the first appeals judgements on sentencing and reparations. Two new trials had recently commenced hearings of evidence and a third trial was due to commence in early 2016. In 2016, the body expected to have up to four trials running, including one existing trial, involving 10 accused persons. It would be the Criminal Court’s busiest year in terms of trial proceedings.
In addition to those cases, two further suspects had been transferred to the body in 2015. Dominic Ongwen, an alleged Brigade Commander in the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda, was transferred almost 10 years after the arrest warrant against him had been issued, she said. More recently, Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi was surrendered to the Criminal Court on charges of war crimes regarding the destruction of historical monuments in Timbuktu, Mali. In September 2014, the Prosecutor opened her ninth investigation following a second referral from the Central African Republic regarding crimes allegedly committed in its territory since 2012. The Prosecutor had also recently asked judicial authorization to open an investigation into the situation in Georgia for the 1 July to 10 October 2008 period for war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in and around South Ossetia.
During the past year, the Criminal Court had also reached important milestones in the implementation of its unique reparations mandate, which gave unprecedented attention to the rights of victims of international crimes, she said. The first appeal judgement on reparations in case of Thomas Lubanga provided clarity on the principles to be applied for reparations under the Rome Statute and in the circumstance of that particular case, instructed the Trust Fund for Victims associated with the Criminal Court to produce a draft implementation plan for collective reparations. The Fund had filed its draft implementation plan earlier in the week and it was now in the hands of the Trial Chamber. Reparations proceedings were also under way in the case of Germain Katanga, whose conviction for crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo became final in 2014. The Trust Fund had also been carrying out its assistance mandate. Psychological, physical and material support was central to responding to the needs of victims under the body’s jurisdiction.
The Criminal Court highly valued its relationship with the United Nations, she said. However, there was a continuing lack of full cooperation on two situations that the Council formally referred to the Prosecutor, namely Darfur and Libya. During the reporting period, the Criminal Court made three judicial findings of non-cooperation, two with respect to Sudan and one with respect to Libya, bringing the number of non-cooperation findings referred to the Council to 11. For the Criminal Court to effectively discharge its mandate, full compliance with relevant Council resolutions was required. The Criminal Court was not in a position to obtain that compliance and looked to the Council for support.
Since the Criminal Court’s last report, the number of States Parties to the Rome Statute had grown to 123 with the accession of the State of Palestine on 2 January 2015. There had also been several new ratifications of the amendments to the Statute adopted at the Review Conference in Kampala in 2010. Twenty-six States had ratified the amendments to article 8 concerning the use of poisonous weapons and expanding bullets in non-international armed conflicts, and 24 States had ratified the amendments on the crime of aggression. In addition, Senegal and the State of Palestine had ratified the Agreement on the Privileges and Immunities of the Criminal Court, bringing the total number of Parties to the Agreement to 74. She encouraged all remaining States to consider joining that Agreement.
GILLES MARHIC, of the European Union, said that it was clear from the current year’s report that the Criminal Court was facing an increased workload. Looking to 2016, four trials would take place simultaneously, covering alleged crimes involving more than 10,000 victims. In light of that increased workload, the importance of the efficient and effective functioning of the Criminal Court was underlined. The international community needed to work tirelessly to ensure the universality of the Rome Statute, which was essential for ensuring accountability for the most serious crimes. The European Union had taken note of the decision of the Criminal Court Prosecutor to open a preliminary examination of the situation in Palestine.
Complementarity was a core principle in the Rome Statute: in order to make it operational, all States Parties needed to prepare and adopt effective national legislation to implement the Rome Statute in national systems, he said. It was a fundamental challenge how to react to instances of non-cooperation of States which were in violation of their obligations with regard to the Criminal Court. Calling on all States to take consistent action to encourage appropriate and full cooperation with the Criminal Court, he reiterated the crucial importance for all States to refrain from hiding perpetrators of the most serious crimes. The European Union and its Member States would pursue the fight against impunity, including by giving their full diplomatic support to the Criminal Court.
EDEN CHARLES (Trinidad and Tobago), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said the Court’s success was linked to the universality of the Rome Statute and CARICOM welcomed the number of ratification to the Statute of the Criminal Court and the Kampala Amendments. CARICOM was optimistic that the required 30 ratification would be achieved before 2017, so the Kampala Amendments could enter-into-force and the Criminal Court could exercise its jurisdiction over the crime of aggression. It also recognized the most recent State Parties to the Agreement on the Privileges and Immunities of the Criminal Court.
CARICOM remained concerned that some States failed to honour their legally binding obligations to cooperate with the Criminal Court in the execution of outstanding arrest warrants, in order to bring to justice those responsible for the most severe crimes of concern to the international community, he said. CARICOM was deeply concerned that the Criminal Court’s workload had significantly increased over the past year yet there had not been a similar increase in its resources. It was clear that 2016 would be the busiest year of the Court’s history with an unprecedented four cases, taking place simultaneously, covering more than 10,000 victims. CARICOM reiterated its call for the Criminal Court to be provided with the necessary resources to properly execute its mandate. CARICOM urged those States Parties that had not yet done so to pay outstanding contributions to ensure the Criminal Court was able to carry out its responsibilities effectively and efficiently. It also encouraged States to make voluntary contributions to the Trust Fund for Victims, to ensure victims were given adequate reparations.
MARJA LEHTO (Finland), speaking on behalf of the Nordic countries, said the Criminal Court was the most important international actor in efforts to fight impunity and develop international criminal law. The Criminal Court and the States Parties were part of the Rome Statute system of international criminal justice, building on the principles of complementarity, cooperation and shared responsibility to hold perpetrators of mass crimes accountable and ensure justice for victims. The Nordic countries were concerned that the number of outstanding warrants remained high and States Parties had a legal obligation under the Rome Statute to cooperate fully with the Criminal Court. States had the primary responsibility to investigate and prosecute crimes as the Criminal Court was a court of last resort. The international community had to acknowledge that many States affected by complex and large-scale crimes - such as genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes - lacked the resources, capacity or motivation to initiate investigations and carry out appropriate criminal proceedings. The Nordic countries were prepared to help States Parties, and were willing to do so to enhance their national legal capacities in the field.
VALENTIN ZELLWEGER (Switzerland) said that the possibility of setting up international ad hoc tribunals had recently been discussed on several occasions when States had proven to be unable or unwilling to prosecute perpetrators of international crimes. That may be an option where the Criminal Court had no temporal jurisdiction, like in relation to crimes in Chad in the 1980s. The decision to create such ad hoc tribunals because it was politically convenient in the short term would turn out to be unsatisfactory in the long term. In such cases, the Criminal Court could serve to hold perpetrators with the greatest responsibility accountable. It would not, however, handle all perpetrators. Therefore, the creation of specialized national tribunals to cover crimes not dealt with by the Criminal Court, like in the Central African Republic, was a welcome and necessary contribution to bringing the principle of complementarity to life and to ensuring justice for victims.
JOHN ADANK (New Zealand) noted that during the reporting period the Prosecutor’s Office had conducted preliminary examinations in 10 situations and opened one new investigation, welcoming the strategic plan the Office devised for the 2016-2018 period to implement its mandate. Peacekeeping missions provided valuable assistance to the Criminal Court’s work and to host States. As a member of the Council, his country was cognisant of the relationship between conflict prevention, peacebuilding and accountability for international crimes. Non-cooperation with binding Council resolutions referring situations to the Criminal Court was not only a critical problem for the tribunal, but went to the heart of the Council’s own credibility. Referrals needed to be carefully examined and the Council must be genuinely committed to supporting the implementation of the referrals it had made.
MANUEL DE JESÚS PÍREZ PÉREZ (Cuba) questioned the impartiality of referrals by the Council to the Criminal Court, citing article 16 of the Rome Statute. His delegation reiterated its call for establishing an impartial criminal jurisdiction of the tribunal, independent of any United Nations entities. Unfortunately, that issue had not been a subject at the Conference of State Parties to the Statute held in Kampala, Uganda. Certain crimes were excluded from investigation due to double standards of the Council. Cuba was seriously concerned by the precedent that was set when the Criminal Court decided to begin judicial proceedings against States that were not parties to the Statute. Cuba was not a party to the Statute, but it fought impunity with full respect for international law.
KATRINA COOPER (Australia) said that the Criminal Court’s services “are in demand” more than ever, noting that currently nine situations were before the tribunal and another nine under preliminary examination. Each of them came before the Criminal Court because States with jurisdiction were either unwilling or unable to take action to hold alleged perpetrators to account, including the case referred by the interim Government of the Central African Republic, which accepted that the judicial system there had collapsed. Among the greatest challenges the tribunal faced was a lack of cooperation from the same actors that had pledged to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war and affirmed that most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole must not go unpunished. States should ratify the Rome Statute, as revised by the Kampala amendments, if they had not done so. As former United Nations Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjold had said, the Organization was not created to “take us to heaven but to save us from hell.” The same could be said of the Criminal Court.
MICHAEL KOCH (Germany) said that the Criminal Court had been founded on the strong belief that sustainable peace and security could only be based on justice and the rule of law. The Rome Statute’s preamble stipulated that the crimes under the jurisdiction of the tribunal threatened the peace, security and well-being of the world. That spirit made the success of the Criminal Court a joint endeavor of all States Parties. Lack of cooperation left the tribunal without means and seriously undermined its credibility. The Council’s involvement should not end with a decision to refer a situation to the Criminal Court. Rather, it must actively accompany the tribunal’s work in following up on request to investigate a given situation.
ANA C. RODRÍGUEZ PINEDA (Guatemala) said the success of the Criminal Court was germane to all Member States. When States failed to honour their obligations, the role of the body was undermined. One way to help the Criminal Court carry out its mandate was not to extend invitations to suspects. There was indifference on the part of the Council with regard to the Criminal Court. On the judicial body’s cooperation with Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the early warning measures and verification missions undertaken by the latter had proved their worth and were a useful tool to the Prosecutor, who could use public information to determine if there were grounds for conviction. The United Nations Secretariat was a key partner of the Criminal Court and could offer logistical cooperation. That cooperation with the Secretariat was not confined to peacekeeping, but should include the Organization’s offices, funds and programmes.
ION GÂLEA (Romania) said that the most powerful preventive approach would be the universality of the Rome Statute and he encouraged all States to become parties to it. The Criminal Court’s capacity to deliver justice depended on the full cooperation of Member States. Each State should be aware of the significance of meeting its legal obligations stemming from the Rome Statute and/or Council resolutions. As the Criminal Court was a court of last resort, complementing national jurisdictions, effective implementation of the principle of complementarity was particularly important for the potential of the Rome Statute to be fully realized. In that context, he commended the positive example presented by the situation in Guinea and the efforts of all actors involved. He also expressed support for establishing a mechanism ensuring effective follow-up to referrals made by the Council and aligned himself with the delegation of the European Union.
ANDREJ LOGAR (Slovenia) welcomed the Organization’s cooperation with the Criminal Court, including through the exchange information, logistical support and security assistance. However, there were several areas that required improvement. The 11 unanswered Criminal Court communications to the Council on non-cooperation regarding Darfur and Libya and the general lack of policy on referrals, attested to the fact that greater efforts were needed in that regard. The Council’s sanctions system should be put to better use when arrest warrants were issued by the Criminal Court. The judicial body’s activities should be mainstreamed into the United Nations system to create synergies among the relevant actors in human rights, peace and security, and international criminal justice. The Criminal Court also required full and prompt cooperation from States. To date, 12 arrest warrants remained outstanding, including the case of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. The lack of States’ cooperation seriously undermined the Criminal Court. On the principle of complementarity, the judicial body was a court of last resort and could only prosecute a limited number of individuals. A proper and effective implementation principle of complementarity was needed which required national legislation and inter-State cooperation. Slovenia, Argentina, Belgium and the Netherlands were actively engaged in that regard, including through the initiative to adopt a multilateral treaty for mutual legal assistance and extradition for domestic prosecution of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
OMER DAHAB FADL MOHAMED (Sudan) said cooperation and the friendly settlement of disputes were necessary. The Charter respected political independence and integrity. It was important to avoid immunity through relevant national legislation. Sudan criticized the politicization of international justice and the bending of justice to serve narrow interests. The rules of international law were being infringed upon. Sudan objected to the Secretariat’s report, which looked at the relationship between the Criminal Court and the United Nations. The report’s authors proposed new paragraphs leading to interpretations not reflected in the spirit or relevance of the agreement. It was improper to merge the Criminal Court into the United Nations system. The Criminal Court had to be independent and to serve clear provisions.
During informal consultations, Sudan had expressed its position, he said. The Criminal Court, during its recent practices, had shown it was a tool focused on Africa and the targeting of African leaders. The African populace saw the Criminal Court as a court of the big States against the developing countries. Where were the Criminal Court’s principles of impartiality and independence, he asked. Sudan had raised those questions and had not received any rational and clear answers. The Criminal Court’s only mandate was to target Africa and the African States and nobody else. All the situations addressed by the Criminal Court were in African States. In addition, the relationship between the Criminal Court and the Council was an explicit illustration of politicization. There should not be such a relationship.
GUSTAVO MEZA-CUADRA (Peru) noted the Criminal Court’s unprecedented caseload in 2016 and was pleased that it would move to new permanent headquarters. His country supported practical measures to accelerate proceedings and improve efficiency. International criminal justice continued to be a lofty goal and needed support from all Member States. There was meagre progress on implementing the Assembly resolution on the Criminal Court’s reports. He stressed the need to move forward to reform the Council, including on rules regarding the use of the veto in preventing war crimes. He appealed to States to ratify the Rome Statute, preferably its 2010 version.
DAVID PRESSMAN (United States) said that his country was cooperating with the Criminal Court on a case-by-case basis. The international community must intensify collaboration to bring perpetrators to justice. The United States welcomed the transfer of Dominic Ongwen to the judicial body and looked forward to the transfer of Joseph Kony. It also welcomed the transfer of Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi, whose crimes were an assault on the cultural heritage of humankind. The United States also welcomed the Criminal Court’s continued cooperation with United Nations peacekeeping missions and recognized the valuable contribution gender experts by the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women – (UN Women) to the Office of the Prosecutor. His country had serious concerns on the crimes of aggression amendment to the Rome Statute. Greater clarification was needed in that regard, such as on the type of conduct and States that were covered by it.
GERT AUVAART (Estonia) said that while the Criminal Court was an independent judicial institution, it was connected to the United Nations through its genesis and shared values. That natural relationship was institutionalized in 2004 through the United Nations-Criminal Court Relationship Agreement. Estonia encouraged the strengthening of the relationship between the Criminal Court and the Council. The latter had authorized its missions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Mali to cooperate and support the Criminal Court. His country urged the Council to mandate United Nations peacekeeping missions to arrest Criminal Court fugitives. As the Office of Legal Affairs was the focal point for ensuring cooperation with the entire United Nations system on all aspects of its relationship with the Criminal Court, Estonia encouraged all United Nations actors to systemize their collaboration with it. The United Nations and other international and regional organizations should assist States to build their national capacity to investigate and prosecute Rome Statute crimes domestically.
VASILIKI KRASA(Cyprus) said her country was satisfied that the Prosecutor was giving particular attention to allegations concerning attacks against buildings dedicated to religion. He noted the progress made in the Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi case. The Criminal Court continued to look to the international community for support and cooperation as it established accountability for the most serious crimes under international law, bringing justice to victims and affected communities, and helping prevent future atrocities. Cyprus reiterated the commitment it had made to the Criminal Court since its inception. Cyprus welcomed the accession of the State of Palestine to the Rome Statute and called on all States which were not parties to the Rome Statute to ratify the document. That universal ratification was crucial for the application of the principle of equality before the law and effective deterrence of the most serious crimes under international law.
Right of Reply
In exercise of the right of reply, the representative of Sudan said he wanted to respond to the representative of Slovenia, who referred to Sudan and used the name of the President of Sudan in his statement, without using the Sudanese President’s title. There was no diplomacy in that statement, although the Member States were working in the world of diplomacy. Sudan was a member of the United Nations and it was the first State to achieve its independence in the sub-Saharan region 60 years ago. The Criminal Court case was political and had nothing to do with justice. It was a double standard. The reference made by Slovenia was not appropriate and was not in line with diplomatic custom. It made Slovenia a tool of the Criminal Court and echoed well-known positions. It was strange and unacceptable. He requested that Sudan’s response be included in the minutes of the Assembly meeting.