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Delegates Stress Judicial Body’s Effectiveness Dependent on Compliance with Judgments, as President Points to ‘Extremely Full’ Caseload
The International Court of Justice remains the highest judicial authority in the world, the General Assembly heard today, as speakers called on all States to accept its jurisdiction and fully comply with its judgments.
Kornelios Korneliou (Cyprus), Vice President of the General Assembly, underscored that 73 years since its founding, the Court remains as relevant as ever. Amid direct attacks against the multilateral system, global institutions and their legitimacy, the Court serves as a testament to the principles of peace and justice. At a time when human rights abuses and conflict devastate the lives of millions, and when tensions simmer in regions throughout the world, the adjudication of disputes between States remains an essential role of the Court in preserving peace and security, he said.
Abdulqawi A. Yusuf, President of the International Court of Justice, presented its report covering the period between 1 August 2017 and 31 July 2018 (document A/73/4). Mr. Yusuf said the Court’s docket remained “extremely full”, with 17 contentious cases and one advisory proceeding currently pending on its list. Over the reporting period, the Court held hearings on 6 cases, delivered 4 judgments and issued 17 orders. Due to the Court’s increasing workload, its members decided not to normally accept to participate in international arbitration, he said.
In the ensuing discussion, delegations called on all States to recognize the Court’s compulsory jurisdiction and abide by its judgments. Some speakers said that failure to do so threatens the Court’s ability to pursue its mandate.
“The effectiveness of the Court depends on compliance with its judgments,” said Mexico’s representative, adding that in 2003 his Government brought its first case to the Court, concerning the United States’ violations of article 36 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, with respect to 54 Mexican nationals sentenced to death in various United States courts. Almost 15 years since the Court’s favourable ruling, there has yet to be compliance with its decision and five of the Mexican nationals have been executed, he said, making an appeal that “this won’t be the case” for Roberto Ramos Moreno, whose execution is scheduled for 14 November.
Iran’s representative underlined that the Court unanimously attested to the illegality of United States sanctions. He said that to help preserve the role of the Court, other States are expected to refrain from helping the United States to impose any impediment to transactions involving specified items.
The representative of Libya said the Court has helped avert the use of force and war. However, the interference of some States that have not accepted its jurisdiction has weakened its role. The international community must respect the will of the Court and meet its obligations. Libya has appeared before the Court and abided by all its opinions even if they did not serve the country’s interests, he noted.
The representative of Cuba regretted the existence of Court judgments without enforcement, in clear violation of Article 94 of the United Nations Charter. The refusal by some States to comply with judgments shows the imperfections of the Court’s mechanisms and demonstrates the need to reform the United Nations system.
Several delegations involved in recent Court decisions affirmed their commitment to complying with its rulings.
The representative of Nicaragua said three of the cases highlighted in the report correspond to his country and Costa Rica. Through those, the Court settled pending issues that will improve relations between both countries. Nicaragua is committed to the rule of law, he said, noting that in all cases it has been a party to it has complied with the court’s decisions.
For his part, the representative of Costa Rica welcomed the Court’s judgments in the cases it was involved in and said his country abides by the Court’s jurisdiction. He called on States to also accept the Court’s jurisdiction and to support it in its pursuit of international peace and security. The Court cannot function effectively without absolute legal independence and the necessary budgetary resources, he stressed.
Speakers noted the Court’s increasing workload, characterized by geographical and thematic diversity, and said it affirms its vital role as the United Nations main judicial body in promoting international peace and security and the rule of law.
The representative of Australia, also speaking for Canada and New Zealand, said the willingness of States to entrust the Court with their disputes reflects their deep respect for the Court and underlines its institutional significance as a mechanism for States to resolve their disagreements peacefully.
Singapore’s representative said that given the recent crisis of confidence in multilateralism, the Court’s role in crystallizing and clarifying international law in areas as diverse as the law of the sea, territorial sovereignty, the use of force and treaty interpretation is more important than ever.
Turning specifically to security matters, the representative of Gambia, speaking on behalf of the African Group, stressed the relevance of the Court’s advisory opinions on matters of disarmament and nuclear weapons. He said that in its unanimous 1996 advisory opinion on the “Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons”, the Court concluded that there exists an obligation to pursue and conclude negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all aspects under strict and effective international control.
Several speakers called for increased cooperation between the Court and relevant United Nations entities, specifically appealing to the Security Council to make greater use of the Court.
Venezuela’s representative, speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said the Court has an important role in promoting the peaceful settlement of disputes. Yet the Security Council has not turned to a Court advisory opinion since 1970, he said, emphasizing the importance of the Court’s opinion on the disarmament of nuclear weapons.
The Assembly also had before it the Secretary-General’s report on the Secretary-General’s Trust Fund to Assist States in the Settlement of Disputes through the International Court of Justice (document A/73/319).
Also speaking today were the representatives of Slovakia (on behalf of the Visegrád Group), Cape Verde (on behalf of the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries), Japan, Sudan, Peru, Romania, Belgium, China, Lebanon, Brazil, Bangladesh, Chile, India, Gabon, Guatemala, Cyprus, Ukraine, Germany, Ecuador, Thailand, Uruguay, Qatar, Spain, Bolivia, France, Georgia, Morocco, Paraguay, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Mauritius, Senegal, El Salvador, Netherlands, Philippines, Russian Federation and the United Arab Emirates.
The General Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Friday, 26 October to consider space as a driver of sustainable development.
KORNELIOS KORNELIOU (Cyprus), Vice President of the General Assembly, underscored that 73 years since its founding, the International Court of Justice, a hallmark component of the Charter of the United Nations, remains as relevant as ever. In the face of the headwinds against the multilateral system and global institutions, including direct attacks on their legitimacy, the Court stands as testament to the principles of peace and justice in a multilateral world. The historic exchange between the Court and the General Assembly is particularly pertinent to the seventy third session, which aims to make the United Nations relevant to all. The Court serves as a bulwark against arbitrariness and provides a mechanism for peaceful settlement of disputes, guaranteeing the stability necessary for international cooperation.
He emphasized that the Court’s workload has increased over the last 20 years, including in the period under review. This demonstrates that there remains a need and desire for a multilateral mechanism to address legal challenges of international concern. The variety of cases addressed by the Court, and the fact that these cases stem from four continents, is also testament to its universality. He noted that as of today, a total of 73 Member States have accepted, as compulsory, the Court’s jurisdiction.
At a time when human rights abuses and conflict devastate the lives of millions, and when tensions simmer in regions throughout the world, the adjudication of disputes between States remains an essential role of the Court in preserving peace and security, he said. For Member States, respect for the Court’s decisions and judgments remains critical for the efficacy and longevity of the international justice system. The General Assembly has called upon States that have not yet done so to consider accepting the jurisdiction of the Court in accordance with its Statute, he said.
ABDULQAWI A. YUSUF, President of the International Court of Justice, said the Court’s docket remained “extremely full” during the reporting period, with 17 contentious cases and one advisory proceeding currently pending on its list. Over this period, the Court held hearings on six cases, delivered four judgments and issued 17 orders. Among those, the Court heard the Parties’ oral arrangements on the preliminary objections submitted by France in the case concerning Immunities and Criminal Proceedings (Equatorial Guinea v. France). It held hearings on the merits in the case concerning Obligation to Negotiate Access to the Pacific Ocean (Bolivia v. Chile) and heard the oral arrangements on two requests for the indication of provisional measures submitted in the case concerning Application of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (Qatar v. United Arab Emirates).
He said that on 2 February the Court rendered its judgment on the question of compensation in the case concerning Certain Activities Carried out by Nicaragua in the Border Area (Costa Rica v. Nicaragua). The Court found that through excavations Nicaragua removed many trees and cleared vegetation, activities that significantly affected the ability of the impacted sites to provide certain environmental goods and services.
Also concerning Costa Rica and Nicaragua, the Court handed down a second judgment concerning Maritime Delimitation in the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean which “raised issues of territorial sovereignty which were expedient to examine first”, he said. The Court found that Costa Rica had sovereignty over the whole of Isla Portillos, except for Harbour Head Lagoon and the sandbar separating it from the Caribbean Ocean. The Court also found that Nicaragua violated Costa Rica’s territorial sovereignty by establishing a military camp on Isla Portillos. After the judgment was read, Nicaragua informed the Court that it removed its military camp from Costa Rica’s territory.
Among the orders handed down by the Court or its President was one concerning four counter claims made by Colombia concerning Alleged Violations of Sovereign Rights and Maritime Spaces in the Caribbean Sea (Nicaragua v. Colombia). The Court found that the first and second counter claims submitted by Colombia were inadmissible as such and did not form part of the current proceedings, and that the third and fourth counter claims submitted by Colombia were admissible as such and did form part of the current proceedings. The Court directed Nicaragua to submit a Reply and Colombia to submit a Rejoinder relating to the claims of both parties in the proceedings and fixed the time limits for the filing of those pleadings.
The Court also rendered judgments on conservatory measures, he continued. These included the case concerning Application of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (Qatar v. United Arab Emirates). Qatar affirmed that the United Arab Emirates prohibited entry into its territory of all Qatari citizens and introduced a request soliciting support and protection while awaiting a decision on the case. The Court concluded that there was a link between the rights whose protection was sought out and the measures requested by Qatar, and decided to protect the rights sought by Qatar. The United Arab Emirates must ensure that the Qatari families separated by actions of the United Arab Emirates are reunited. The Court called on both Parties to not engage in actions that would further complicate the case.
On the case concerning Alleged violations of the 1955 Treaty of Amity, Economic Relations, and Consular Rights (Islamic Republic of Iran v. United States of America), he said Iran’s introductory requests reaffirmed that restrictive measures imposed by the United States on Iran run counter to the 1955 Treaty. The Court concluded that the Treaty gave it jurisdiction to study the dispute and was of the view that the rights raised by Iran were plausible, including those related to the access of medical supplies and other goods and services.
On 28 September, the State of Palestine instituted proceedings against the United States, he said. The proceedings regard a dispute concerning alleged violations of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. He recalled that the State of Palestine filed a declaration accepting the jurisdiction of the Court for the settlement of disputes under article 1 of the Vienna Convention and noted that the State of Palestine contends that diplomatic missions of a sending country must be established on the territory of the receiving State.
Turning to extrajudicial activities that Members of the Court occasionally undertake, he said that States may, for several reasons, be interested in settling their disputes by arbitration. He said Members of the Court have been called upon by States to sit on the arbitral tribunal in questions dealing with cases concerning interstate disputes and investor State disputes. Such practices are “a testament to the high esteem in which the Court’s judges are held by the international community”. However, considering its ever increasing workload, the Court decided to review the practice of arbitration proceedings to set out clearly defined rules regarding such activities. Members of the Court decided not to normally accept to participate in international arbitration, he said.
He said that following inspections of the Court’s premises in 2016, the Peace Palace — which houses the principal court room — was found to be contaminated with asbestos. As a result, Dutch authorities decided that major work must be undertaken to completely decontaminate and renovate the building. He said the Court “remains largely in the dark” as to the modalities and time frame for the large scale relocation needed to complete the project. He concluded by saying the Court “has made every endeavour to fulfil the noble mission entrusted to it in terms of the advancement of international justice”. The Court deals with thorny legal issues that lie at the heart of the international community’s current concerns and is acutely aware of its responsibility to serve all Member States by safeguarding respect for the rule of law in international relations.
METOD ŠPAČEK (Slovakia), speaking on behalf of the Visegrád Group, noted that the Court offers States various means of acceptance of its jurisdiction. Currently, 73 out of 193 States Parties to the Court’s Statute accept the Court’s compulsory jurisdiction under article 36 of the Statute. Special agreements on submission of differences between States to the Court offer another way for accepting the Court’s jurisdiction, which should not be underestimated. In addition, numerous treaties that are currently being negotiated should routinely include provisions on peaceful settlement of disputes, including clauses on the Court’s jurisdiction in respect of the interpretation and application of the treaty in question. He also highlighted the Court’s significant contribution to the strengthening of international rule of law, including in areas of marine, territorial, environmental, human rights and State immunity.
SAMUEL MONCADA (Venezuela), speaking on behalf of the Non Aligned Movement, supported the principle on the peaceful settlement of disputes and rejected the use of force to settle disputes. The Court has an important role in promoting the peaceful settlement of disputes without jeopardizing peace and justice. Yet the Security Council has not turned to a Court advisory opinion since 1970, he said, calling on the Security Council to make greater use of the Court and its advisory opinions, especially regarding controversial issues. He urged the Council to consider the possibility of having the Court examine some of its decisions, bearing in mind the need to adhere to the Charter and international law. The Movement invites the Assembly and other bodies to turn to the Court’s advisory opinions on legal issues as they may arise. He emphasized the importance of the Court’s advisory opinion on the disarmament of nuclear weapons. He called on Israel to fully observe the Court’s 2004 advisory opinion on the legal consequences of the building of a wall in Palestine and to put an end to the occupation that began in 1967.
JOSÉ LUIS FIALHO ROCHA (Cabo Verde), speaking on behalf of the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries, noted that the Court’s heavy workload and wide range of subjects confirm its successful operation. The range of matters handled and “high factual and legal complexity” of cases reaffirm its universality, expanded scope and growing specialization. However, Member States must acknowledge the Court needs adequate resources to function. Making an outstanding contribution in matters regarding use of force, delimitation of maritime boundaries, self determination and the immunity of States and their agents, the Court’s judgments and advisory opinions inspire other international decision making bodies. Given the frequent tension between law and power, he cited the Court as an institutional pillar of international society.
MARIE-CHAROLETTE MCKENNA (Australia), also speaking for Canada and New Zealand, said that the Court plays a critical role in facilitating the peaceful settlement of disputes between States and promoting the rule of law. Over the last 20 years, its workload has grown considerably. The cases submitted to the Court cover a diverse geographical spread of States and involve a wide variety of subject matters. The willingness of States to entrust the Court with their disputes reflects their deep respect for the Court and underlines its institutional significance as a mechanism for States to resolve their disputes peacefully. She is convinced that the acceptance of the Court’s compulsory jurisdiction by the widest possibly assembly of States enables it to fulfil its role, by broadening the options available to States to resolve their disputes. States that have not yet done so should deposit with the Secretary General a declaration of acceptance of the Court’s compulsory jurisdiction. She noted with appreciation the Court’s efforts to manage its demanding caseload and encouraged it to continue to endeavour to provide timely and appropriate responses to urgent situations.
AMADOU JAITEH (Gambia), speaking for the African Group and associating himself with the Non Aligned Movement, said that everything the Court does is aimed at promoting the rule of law. He welcomed the reaffirmed confidence that States have shown in the Court’s ability to resolve their disputes. In particular, he was pleased to see that States continue to refer cases to the Court, and commended States for no longer limiting their referral of cases to matters of little political significance. The number of cases on its docket demonstrates the esteem with which States hold the Court.
The principle of prevention, enunciated in Court decisions such as the Corfu Channel and in the advisory opinion on the “Use or Threat of Use of Nuclear Weapons”, is drawn upon significantly by the Court, he said. As such, he emphasized the importance of the unanimous 1996 Court advisory opinion on the “Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons”. In this decision, the Court concluded that there exists an obligation to pursue and conclude negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all aspects under strict and effective international control. After two decades, the Court once again has the opportunity to decide on issues pertaining to nuclear weapons. The Court dismissed the three cases submitted by the Marshall Islands on the Obligations concerning Negotiations relating to Cessation of the Nuclear Arms Race and to Nuclear Disarmament. However, it is worth bearing in mind the closeness of the votes regarding these cases.
MASAHIRO MIKAMI (Japan), noting that his/her country became a State party to the Statute of the Court in 1954, outlined the country’s efforts to promote rule of law. At the fifty seventh annual session of the Asian African Legal Consultative Organization in Tokyo, Japan as host country took the initiative to introduce an agenda item on the peaceful settlement of disputes. It was noted during that discussion that the submission of disputes to the Court has increased progressively since the end of the cold war. However, in general, Asia Pacific States seem cautious to utilize the Court mechanism. The increase in the number of cases speaks for itself, he said, highlighting the international community’s respect and support for the Court’s legal wisdom.
OMER DAHAB FADL MOHAMED (Sudan), associating himself with the Non Aligned Movement and the African Group, said the General Assembly has considered the Court’s report every year since 1968, a practice that promotes active cooperation between both bodies. The Court contributes to the promotion of peace, he said, noting that the United Nations Charter reaffirms the need to create conditions conducive to justice and respect for international law. “The Court’s judgments are binding, and its jurisprudence has far reaching effects,” he stressed, adding that the Court plays an important role in conflict prevention and contributes to the wider efforts of the United Nations in the service of peace. The Court plays a role in the promotion of the rule of law and its judgments and advisory opinions are essential to ensuring the international community’s compliance with the rule of law. He encouraged the Court to enhance its ability to respond to its increasing workload and commended its impartiality.
FRANCISCO TENYA (Peru) said his country is committed to multilateralism and international law and asserted that the Court fulfills a fundamental function in finding peaceful solutions to disputes. The Court promotes the rule of law internationally, he said, calling on the Security Council to promote recourse for the peaceful settlement of disputes. Stressing the importance of the peaceful resolution of his country’s dispute with Chile, he said the Court can give advisory opinions upon the request of authorized United Nations entities. He called on all States to recognize the Court’s international jurisdiction and expressed appreciation for the work done by its Registrar. The General Assembly must closely assess the Court’s needs. The geographical diversity of the cases taken up by the Court is an indication of the high esteem the Court is awarded by the international community. He said the Court’s methods of work must adapt to its increasing workload. Peru attaches “immense significance” to the work of the Court, he stressed.
BURHAN GAFOOR (Singapore), noting the Court’s role in crystallizing and clarifying international law in areas as diverse as the law of the sea, territorial sovereignty, the use of force and treaty interpretation, said that given the recent crisis of confidence in multilateralism, that role is more important than ever. Highlighting two 2017 cases that his country and Malaysia were involved in before the Court, he said “what is noteworthy is that both parties had gone through the legal process and put the matter to rest amicably”. Welcoming the Court’s continued efforts to leverage technology and social media to raise awareness and bring transparency to its work, he added that the regular updates on its website and the coverage of its public sittings make the Court’s work more accessible, especially to States such as his which are located far from The Hague.
ALINA OROSAN (Romania) said that this year’s report of the Court illustrates a particularly high level of intensity in its work. Several cases were finalized, providing important clarifications in respect of difficult questions of international law for the benefit of legal practitioners everywhere. The current docket of the Court continues to register a substantial number of cases, involving countries from various regions of the world and concerning issues of great interest not only for the parties involved but for the entire international community. She highlighted that the increased willingness of States to turn to the Court must be welcomed, and that many of the cases submitted concern complex and politically sensitive issues. This stands as proof of the trust that States continue to place in the Court as the means to peacefully solve international disputes, she said.
MOHAMED A. M. NFATI (Libya), associating himself with the Non Aligned Movement and the African Group, said the international community has known it needed an international judiciary system to settle disputes and this was achieved with the creation of the Organization and the Court. The Court has dual roles to settle disputes. A question is whether the Court is performing its role adequately. Eighty per cent of its disputes are between States and 20 per cent are requests for advisory opinions. The Court has helped to avert the use of force and war. The interference of some States that have not accepted its jurisdiction has weakened the Court’s role. In December 2003, the Assembly asked the Court for an advisory opinion on the legitimacy of Israel’s occupation in occupied Palestine. In 2004, the Court issued an opinion that the occupation is illegal and the construction of the wall has to be stopped and damages awarded. Each country must seek to comply with the Court’s decisions. The international community must respect the will of the Court and meet its obligations. Libya has appeared before the Court and abided by all its opinions even if they did not serve the country’s interests. The international community must make all efforts to fully support the Court.
PAUL RIETJENS (Belgium) commended the work of the Court’s judges and said the Court contributes to conflict prevention and to achieving the goals of the United Nations. He encouraged all States to accept the compulsory jurisdiction of the Court and noted its constantly increasing workload. “This intense activity reflects the trust that States have in the Court,” he said, adding that the geographic and thematic diversity of cases before it demonstrate the universal nature of its jurisdiction. Through its judgments and opinions, the Court has contributed substantially to the application of international law. He called on States and international organizations to include provisions recognizing the Court’s jurisdiction in treaties. The Court cannot be effective unless its judgments are respected, he said.
RICARDO ALDAY GONZÁLEZ (Mexico) said myriad threats are challenging the strength of global institutions and international law. The Court’s work must be given due attention by the General Assembly so the peaceful resolution of disputes can be given the focus it deserves. It is very important to recall that over the last decade some 20 contentious cases have been addressed by the Court. The variety of issues raised at the Court demonstrates that it is the highest judicial authority in the world. However, less than half of Member States have accepted the Court’s compulsory jurisdiction. The lack of accountability violates international law and increases the risk of international conflict. “The effectiveness of the Court depends on compliance with its judgments,” he said, warning that non compliance weakens the body’s functions. In 2003, Mexico brought its first case to the Court, concerning the United States violations of article 36 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, with respect to 54 Mexican nationals sentenced to death in various United States courts. Almost 15 years since the Court’s favourable ruling, there has yet to be compliance with the Court’s decision. Five of the 54 Mexican nationals have been executed, in violation of international law, he said, making an appeal that “this won’t be the case” for Roberto Ramos Moreno, whose execution is scheduled for 14 November.
ANA SILVIA RODRÍGUEZ ABASCAL (Cuba), associating with the Non Aligned Movement, welcomes the peaceful settlement of disputes in accordance with Article 33.1 of the Charter of the United Nations. Cuba regrets the existence of Court judgments without enforcement, in clear violation of Article 94 of the Charter. It is concerned that the effectiveness and enforceability of the Court’s judgments may be subject to criticism, not without reason, when some countries still do not recognize unfavourable judgments. Regrettably, these countries’ refusal to comply with judgments and their use of the veto in the Security Council to hinder the Organization’s mechanisms to enforce the judgments shows the imperfections of the Court’s mechanisms to execute its decisions. The situation demonstrates the need to reform the United Nations system to grant greater guarantees to developing countries with regard to powerful nations. That reform also extends to the Court. Cuba attaches special importance to its advisory opinions. One which stands out is the 9 July 2004 opinion regarding the legal consequences of the construction of a wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, which remains fully valid under the current circumstances. Cuba stresses that advisory opinions must be fully respected and calls on all States to guarantee respect for the Court’s provisions on this important issue.
XU HONG (China), describing the Court as “the most authoritative and influential international judicial institution in the world today” said that the cases and requests for advisory opinions it is currently handling are related to important issues in international law, including decolonization, and human rights protection. Many cases and requests involve the principle of State consent when inter State disputes are resolved by international judicial authorities. How the Court handles these cases will bear directly on the interests of the country concerned and will have far reaching implications for the development of the relevant rules. Stressing that the Court be equipped with the resources commensurate to its workload, he added that as a permanent Security Council member, China will continue to support the Court in obtaining the necessary guarantee and support.
YOUSSEF HITTI (Lebanon) said the Court is a central component of multilateralism and the use of legal opinions is a peaceful means for countries to settle their international disputes. The Court helps States settle disputes by recognizing laws. It gives life to legal issues. A bilingual Court, working in French and English, demonstrates the universal nature of the Court and helps achieve justice as it handles cases from all over the world. Despite the Court’s increased caseload, it has kept up with its work and met its deadlines in reaching opinions. He commended all the Court members for the ethical nature of their work, stressing that Lebanon is firmly committed to the rule of law and supports the Court.
GEORGE RODRIGO BANDEIRA GALINDO (Brazil) said that for more than 70 years, the Court has helped to crystallize and clarify international law in areas as diverse as the law of the sea, human rights, treaty interpretation and the use of force. He highlighted that the Court’s latest report is yet another chapter in its auspicious history, as it contains four judgments, 13 orders and five contentious new cases. The pending cases involve States from four continents, including six from Africa, seven from the Americas, six from Asia and five from Europe. The high level of activity, the diverse geographical spread of cases and the variety of subject matter demonstrate the renewed vitality of the Court and its universal role in promoting justice. It is also a reminder of the heavy demands placed on the Court and the efforts it has been making to keep up with its increasing workload, he said.
MASUD BIN MOMEN (Bangladesh) stressed the importance of upholding the Court’s standing as the principal judicial organ of the United Nations and making greater use of its competence to de-escalate tensions and prevent conflicts among Member States. It is also incumbent upon the Assembly, the Council and other United Nations entities to use the Court’s competence and seek its advisory opinion on legal questions arising under the remit of their respective activities. Bangladesh gives great importance to the Court’s 2004 opinion concerning the illegality of Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, which still pose a formidable obstacle to the meaningful resumption of the Middle East peace process. Every year Bangladesh co sponsors an Assembly resolution regarding the threat or use of nuclear weapons. It continues to underscore the importance of negotiating in the Conference on Disarmament a comprehensive convention addressing all aspects of nuclear disarmament under strict and effective international control.
MARIANA DURNEY (Chile) said the Court’s report reflects its intense workload which is characterized by intricate issues of international law. The issues under the Court’s consideration show that States turn to it to help guide their conduct in terms of international law. Chile appreciates the “lofty responsibilities” of the Court, whose mission is to bring legitimacy to dispute settlement mechanisms. The Court generates valuable jurisprudence that helps clarify international law and validate an international legal order intended to strengthen international peace. The confidence of States in the Court’s ability to act impartially is essential when it comes to referring matters to the Court. Chile was recently notified of the final judgment of the Court on a case concerning it, she said, reaffirming the country’s commitment to international law. Among the core principles guiding Chile is the strengthening of international law as a framework for cooperation. Chile holds the conviction that the value of the Court will be preserved in a global context, she said.
SIDHARTHA FRANCISCO MARÍN ARÁUZ (Nicaragua), associating himself with the Non Aligned Movement, said three of the cases highlighted in the report correspond to his country and Costa Rica. Through those, the Court settled pending issues that will improve relations between both countries. The Court defined a portion of the land border around the Harbor Head area, affirming Nicaragua’s territorial sovereignty in the area. He said the Court defined the amount owed to Costa Rica related to clean up activities along border areas and that Nicaragua had fulfilled its payment obligations. Nicaragua is committed to the rule of law, he said, noting that it has complied with the Court’s decisions in all cases which it has been a party to. There are still two cases pending against Colombia, he said, adding that Nicaragua has submitted rebuttals in those cases. Nicaragua also participated in oral hearings related to the legal consequences of the separation of the Chagos Archipelago from Mauritius in 1965. The work of the General Assembly has been greatly helped by the Court’s advisory opinions, he said, adding that those opinions are respected in bilateral relations among States. He called attention to mentions in the Court’s annual report of increasing requests for provisional measures and said they represent a huge financial burden on the Court.
VISHNU DUTT SHARMA (India) noted that during the past judicial year, the Court delivered judgments in four cases and handed down 13 orders required for different purposes at different stages of proceedings of the cases and held public hearings in three cases. These facts clearly illustrate the importance of the Court’s role in upholding the rule of law. The Court’s report reflects the importance that the States attach to the Court and the confidence they place in the Court.
RODRIGO ALBERTO CARAZO ZELEDON (Costa Rica) said that of the four judgments delivered by the Court over the reporting period, three concerned his country. He called attention to the fact that cases under Court consideration involve States in four continents and cover a wide range of thematic areas, a demonstration of its universal character. The peaceful settlement of international disputes is an essential role of the United Nations and the Court must promote peace and security and the rule of law, he said, calling on Member States to support the Court in that capacity. The Court cannot function effectively without absolute legal independence and the necessary budgetary resources. International law and respect for the rule of law are necessary tools for the “continued survival” of States. Costa Rica welcomes the judgments in the cases it was involved in and abides by the Court’s jurisdiction, he said, calling on States to accept the Court’s jurisdiction.
MICHEL XAVIER BIANG (Gabon) noted the “excellent contribution” of the Court in the settlement of disputes among States. “It is undeniable that the Court is fulfilling its role for international peace and security,” he said. Noting the wide variety of issues covered in Court proceedings, he said the body has worked impartially and professionally. He said the Court strengthens the confidence of States in the primacy of international law. He called for the General Assembly to work in a manner that can ensure the Court can work effectively.
JORGE SKINNER-KLÉE (Guatemala) noted the intense workload of the Court this year and said the volume of the Court’s work had increased over the years. This indicated the desire for States to settle disputes through peaceful means. He commended the important nature of the Court’s work. The Court helps to bring compliance with the rules of international law. He referred to the referendum carried out in Guatemala in April on its territorial dispute with Belize. The people have decided to refer this dispute to the Court. Guatemala confirms its commitment to peace.
DOROS VENEZIS (Cyprus) said that during the current review period, the Court experienced a particularly high level of activity and that 19 cases are pending before it. “The consistently high workload demonstrates the confidence placed in the Court and the respect shown for it by States,” he said, adding that the workload stands as proof that States do not hesitate to turn to the Court. He said the Court must have at its disposal the necessary resources to effectively address the requests before it. Cyprus participated in the written and oral proceedings tabled by the African Group on the legal consequences of the separation of the Chagos Archipelago from Mauritius in 1965. He stressed the importance of ensuring that the decisions of the Court are universally accepted and called on all States to recognize the Court’s jurisdiction.
PKSANA ZOLOTAROVA (Ukraine) said an increasing number of States are turning to the Court to seek protection of their rights and the rights of their people. She said the Court’s positions are a source of international law and noted the Court’s recent practice of emphasizing that its orders have binding effect and create international legal obligations. However, not all States respect the Court’s orders. Referencing the provisional measures order of 19 April 2017 in the case instituted by Ukraine against the Russian Federation, she said the Court required Moscow to “refrain from maintaining or imposing limitations on the ability of the Crimean Tatar community to preserve its representative institutions, including the Mejilis”. A year since the order was issued, the Russian Federation has not considered that it must suspend its discriminatory ban on the Mejilis. By ignoring Court orders, the Russian Federation is violating binding decisions, clearly showing its attitude towards the Court, the United Nations Charter and international law. Ukraine submitted a Memorial to the Court documenting serious violations of international law by the Russian Federation and cataloguing brazen assaults on human rights and international law. She said that the Russian Federation “seeks to avoid accountability for its unlawful actions”.
CHRISTOPHE EICK (Germany), stressing that the Court’s jurisdiction is based on the consent of the concerned States, encouraged countries to do as his country had and submit a general declaration under article 36 (2) of the Court’s Statute accepting its jurisdiction as compulsory. The reverse side of this principle means that the Court cannot settle a dispute among parties without their consent, he said, also highlighting the Court’s dual jurisdiction, which not only covers contentious cases, but also advisory opinions on general legal questions requested by organs of the United Nations. Any attempt at blurring the line between these two aspects would put the Court in a difficult position, he cautioned, adding that since the Court is the principal instrument for peaceful settlement of disputes between States, the international community must utilize and protect it.
HELENA YANEZ (Ecuador) said her Government has always supported the work of the Court. The Court’s annual report is testament to its hard work and demonstrates its integrity and impartiality. Over the past 20 years, there has been a significant increase in the Court’s caseload. This shows the confidence of States in the institution. The Court must have all the requisite resources and funds to carry out its work, she said, noting that the institution works to defend equality between States as a way to ensure international peace and security.
PIRANAJ THONGNOPNUA YVARD (Thailand) said the Court, for this reporting period, has continued to be very active. The cases that remain on the Court’s docket cover a wide array of complex issues and involve States from every continent. The increasing number of cases presented to the Court express the full confidence of Member States in the institution as the principal judicial organ of the United Nations. Thailand will continue to follow the Court’s work very closely. Through its advisory opinions, the Court has always contributed to the peaceful settlement of disputes. Thailand will encourage the Assembly to support the Court.
LUIS BERMUDEZ (Uruguay) said the Court’s judgments and advisory opinions have always been based on deep, independent legal analysis. It is necessary for Member States to support the Court and reaffirm their commitment to law and justice. He expressed full support for the principles of the United Nations Charter and compliance with treaties it is party to. Uruguay defends the peaceful settlement of disputes and is one of the first States to incorporate the Court’s jurisdiction into its national legislation. He said the Court is making progress in addressing cases before it and has included in its judgments citations from other courts. The Court’s role in promoting the rule of law strengthens peace and security and States must defend its independence, he stressed.
ALYA AHMED SAIF AL-THANI (Qatar) said the Assembly’s keen interest to listen to the Court is testimony to the role the Court plays in the peaceful settlement of disputes. Therefore, States need to adhere to the advisory opinions of the Court. Non compliance of the opinions undermines efforts for the peaceful settlement of disputes. The San Francisco conference that established the Organization showed that non compliance is a hostile act against the Court. Qatar has always upheld the opinions of the Court and its record shows that it has always respected the Court’s decisions and implemented them in good faith. Qatar has always resorted to the mechanisms provided by international bodies. Qatar remains committed to fully supporting the Court.
CARLOS JIMENEZ PIERNAS (Spain) said the four judgments the Court delivered and the six additional cases that have been filed with the Registry during the reporting period reflect the confidence States have in the Court as their preferred method for peacefully settling international disputes. Regarding written proceedings, the use of a single round of written arguments should be promoted while retaining the rights of States to request a second round only under exceptional circumstances. Turning to oral proceedings, there is a possibility that before the hearings, Court members could indicate any points of fact or issues of law on which the parties focus their oral submissions. Spain believes the practice of issuing extensive dissenting or even separate opinions, often longer than the judgment itself, is not in keeping, strictly speaking, with the performance of judicial functions. Lectures on international law should be held in The Hague Academy of International Law whereas in the Great Hall of Justice such law should be applied and interpreted.
SACHA SERGIO LLORENTTY SOLÍZ (Bolivia) said that his country, as a founding United Nations member, has participated in the preservation of peace and international justice. The renewal of States’ interest in peacefully resolving disputes through the Court displays its relevance. Referring to Latin America, he said countries in the region are the primary clients of the Court, accounting for over 50 per cent of the cases under its consideration. The Court has helped resolve border issues that resulted from prolonged colonial rule in the region. Referencing the War of the Pacific that began in 1879 — in which Bolivia was invaded by Chile — he said the resulting peace treaty failed to resolve border issues. The Court has resolved border issues between Peru and Chile related to the same conflict. By the same token, Bolivia has referred its loss of access to the ocean to the Court in line with the purpose of resolving the unjust “landlocked nature” imposed upon the country. In its decision from a few days ago, the Court stated that parties must not be precluded from conducting dialogue and exchanges to address Bolivia’s landlocked status. He said his Government respects the decision and noted that the case can help heal one of the last remaining “open wounds” in the region. Bolivia is certain that the Court’s decision will signal a new era in its relations with Chile. Bolivia has invited Chile to resume bilateral dialogue in the framework of the invitation included in the Court’s ruling.
FRANÇOIS ALABRUNE (France), said the different legal cultures and languages in which the Court works help to produce the high quality of its work. The increase in the Court’s workload over the years and its advisory opinions have helped States reach peaceful settlements of disputes. Compliance by States depends on the quality of the decisions. In this period of multilateralism, the Court is an institution that is vital for peace and the international legal order. France is committed to the Court’s role as the main judicial body of the United Nations. France renews its commitment to the Court and all its members and personnel and expresses deep appreciation for their work.
KAHA IMNADZE (Georgia) said the Court has established its authority as the only international court of a universal character. The importance of international law is a basic threshold for every civilized nation, he said, adding that adherence to international legal rules is of paramount importance for sustaining peace and stability. Since Georgia’s independence in 1991, the incorporation of international legal frameworks into its legal system has helped shape its democratic institutions. The Court’s decisions and advisory opinions have been incorporated into the country’s education system to foster a generation that understands the body’s role in developing legal rules of interstate relations. Even though 20 per cent of its territory remains under illegal occupation, Georgia acknowledges the primacy of peaceful settlement of disputes and of upholding the principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter.
GHOLAMALI KHOSHROO (Iran), associating himself with the Non Aligned Movement, said the Court has authority and influence that cannot be matched by other United Nations organs and its role is critical in the peaceful settlement of international disputes. He said the conclusion of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action is a key achievement in multilateral diplomacy, adding that it is tragic that the United States is punishing a sovereign State simply for complying with Security Council resolutions. The United States unilaterally withdrew from the agreement in violation of Security Council resolutions, declaring its intention to impose “the strongest sanction regime” in history, he said. “To legally and effectively counter this arrogant policy” he said Iran filed an application with the Court to protect its rights under the 1955 Treaty of Amity, Economic Relations and Consular Rights which were infringed as the result of the reimposition of sanctions. He said the Court unanimously indicated provisional measures and specified that the United States is obliged to remove any impediments arising from the measures announcing its withdrawal from the agreement. He underlined that the Court unanimously attested to the illegality of United States sanctions and indicated that the United States is under obligation to refrain from any action that might aggravate the dispute before the Court. To help preserve the role of the Court, other States are expected to refrain from helping the United States to impose any impediment to transactions involving specified items.
MOHAMMED ATLASSI (Morocco) said that the Court is the most accessible body called upon to rule upon disputes among States and it helps to contribute to the use of law as a way to reach peace. He commended the training the Court offers in international law. More than 300 treaties and bilateral conventions call on the Court to achieve the resolution of disputes. In a world of substantial and rapid change, the Court’s work in affirming the rule of law and clarifying the rule of law must take into account the many changes in the world today.
ENRIQUE CARILLO GOMEZ (Paraguay) highlighted the Court’s contribution to international stability. Its relevance is shown in the increase in the number of cases and the expansion of the nature of its cases. The Court is a trustworthy promoter of the rule of international law and it has helped develop international law in many areas, such as human rights. The Court is an effective tool to avoid international conflict and violence. The Court’s work helps raise awareness of the importance of international treaties and their observance and compliance of treaties. The use of the Spanish language as an official language of the Court would expand the Court’s reach. Paraguay calls for strengthening the Court’s validity by providing it with sufficient resources.
MOHAMED IBRAHIM EL SHINAWY (Egypt), associating himself with the Non Aligned Movement and the African Group, said changes in the political and legal climate since the Court’s creation show the importance of its role in the peaceful settlement of disputes among States. The Court’s increasing workload and the fact that cases under its consideration involve States in four continents are proof of the total confidence placed on the Court. He noted that the Court has only issued one advisory opinion related to the separation of the Chagos Archipelago from Mauritius and encouraged States to recognize the obligatory jurisdiction of the Court. The Court contributes to the development of international law and works to guarantee true understanding of its decisions. The General Assembly must provide the necessary funding to the Court, so it is positioned to best execute its mandate as the main judicial body of the United Nations.
NARCISO SIPACO RIBALA (Equatorial Guinea), associating himself with the African Group, Non Aligned Movement and Community of Portuguese speaking Countries, said his country advocates for the peaceful resolution of international disputes through frank dialogue. As such, the Court has a fundamental role to play in the peaceful resolutions of disputes and promotion of the rule of law. The number and diversity of cases before the Court deserves recognition. Unilateral sanctions result in tragic consequences that disproportionately affect vulnerable populations. He voiced concern over the growing trend of some States to interfere in the affairs of other countries. Strongly condemning violations of privileges afforded to Government officials, he said that when negotiations fail to resolve disputes, his country will not hesitate to submit cases to the Court. Equatorial Guinea takes note of all Court proceedings and encourages States to submit disputes to the Court and to abide by its judgments. “Settling of disputes by the court can serve to promote lasting peace,” he said.
JAGDISH DHARAMCHAND KOONJUL (Mauritius) applauds the work of the Court and the professionalism and serenity with which it continues to handle its responsibilities. The sheer load of its cases is clear testimony to the confidence that Member States place in this judicial organ for the peaceful settlement of disputes and guidance on legal issues. It is gratifying that the Court is being solicited by a larger number of Member States. The Court has a full docket of cases and the international community should reinforce its support to the Court by allocating commensurate resources. It welcomes the Court’s decision to review and regulate the practice of participation of its judges in arbitration proceedings. This measure will further reinforce the credibility and integrity of the Court and its judges.
MAMADOU RACINE LY (Senegal), associating himself with the African Group and Non Aligned Movement, said the international community celebrated United Nations Day on 24 October and reaffirmed its commitment to the Charter. Senegal has made the rule of law an important part of its domestic and foreign policy. It commends the Court for its contribution to the rule of law. For Senegal, the cases sent to the Court add to Senegal’s sense of security as it shows the international community can use peaceful means to settle disputes. “What if weapons or survival of the fittest” was the only means for achieving settlement of disputes?, he asked. Even a sorely tested multinational system is still the best way to achieve international peace. It is time to harmonize the work between the Assembly and the Courts for international stability. Senegal is strongly committed to the Court. International law is the basis for a peaceful world. The rule of law also is important for sustainable development.
RUBEN ARMANDO ESCALANTE HASBUN (El Salvador) said in the last year the Court has worked intensively, handing down judgments and orders on a variety of issues, as well as holding public hearings on five new disputes. This points to the fundamental role of the Court in the peaceful settlements of disputes, he said. As the only international court with dual jurisdictions, the Court plays an important role in maintaining the rule of law and strengthening international law. Accessing peaceful settlements must exist on an equal footing for all States. And yet, not all can access it equally because the cost of presenting cases or defending States’ interests has become higher. This, he said, makes it harder to access international justice. At the same time, there has been an increase in the Court’s caseload, he said, calling for proper budgetary allocations to be made in this regard. He went on to note that posts at the Court should be filled by persons from all corners of the world, while ensuring gender balance. Moreover, his Government would also like to see the Court’s documents in all six official languages, he said.
RENÉ LEFEBER (Netherlands) said the consent of States remains essential for the Court to be able to resolve legal disputes. Expressing concern about the increase in reservations about the Court’s jurisdiction, he encouraged all Member States that have not yet done so to accept the compulsory jurisdiction of the Court by issuing a declaration under article 36 (2) of the Statute. For its part, the Netherlands will accept all disputes arising out of situations or facts that took place no earlier than 100 years before the dispute is brought to the Court. Only when given a broad mandate will the Court be able to truly fulfil its functions as the principal judicial organ of the international community. Furthermore, the Netherlands is concerned about recent withdrawals from treaties containing compromissory clauses by States confronted with a case brought against them. Noting the full docket of the Court, he said that while it leads to an increase in the Court’s workload, it is a positive sign of the increasing demand for the Court’s settlement of international disputes and advisory opinions.
MARIA ANGELA PONCE (Philippines) said the 1982 Manila Declaration on the Peaceful Settlement of International Disputes was negotiated and adopted by the Assembly during the cold war, when non aligned countries sought to consolidate their political and economic independence. The Declaration expressed their aspirations by articulating the norms of the peaceful settlement of disputes, outlined in Chapter VI of the United Nations Charter. The Philippines welcomes the increasing workload of the Court and the expanding subject matter of its cases, as well as the geographical diversity of the State parties. The relationship between the Court and the Council is fundamental in the maintenance of peace and security. The Philippines called once again for the Council to seriously consider Article 96 of the Charter and make greater use of the Court as a source of advisory opinions and of interpretation of relevant norms of international law.
Rights of Reply
The representative of the Russian Federation said it wanted to comment on the statement by the representative of Ukraine. Ukraine was not shy to use this legal topic on the Court’s work to disseminate information on litigation debates within its own country. Ukraine went to Court over provisional measures. It was an attempt by Ukraine to impose its own interpretation of provisional measures.
The representative of Chile said the paragraph that Bolivia cited is a unilateral interpretation of an observation made by the Court. It is inappropriate for Bolivia’s delegate to raise a debate on a matter already decided by the Court, which did so definitively in a judgment.
The representative of Qatar said the United Arab Emirates has violated the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. Qatar was referring to the expulsion of all Qataris and the denial of entry to all Qatari nationals. The United Arab Emirates has violated their rights and failed to provide them with adequate representation in the United Arab Emirates. Qatar has requested the Court to order the United Arab Emirates to take all measures to comply with the Convention and suspend its measures. Qatar will work to protect the rights of all Qatari nationals.
The representative of the United Arab Emirates said it was reacting to the erroneous statement made by Qatar. The United Arab Emirates had taken proper measures. The two parties must have good intentions and try to settle the dispute.
The representative of the United Arab Emirates highlighted to his Qatari counterpart that the Court had requested parties to refrain from acts that would exacerbate the dispute. His Government has applied humanitarian exceptions to spare Qatari nationals. Furthermore, the number of nationals residing in the Emirates totals 2,194 and they have every right to stay or leave.
The representative of Qatar said he wanted to clarify erroneous allegations made by the United Arab Emirates’ delegate, even though a court case should not be politicized. The international campaign against his country is based on false allegations. Qatar has taken measures to fight for freedom of expression and liberty of movement and it plays a leadership role in counter terrorism.
Source: United Nation