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October 28, 10

NEWS / Trust placed in UN World Court vital for promoting rule of law, says top judge

28 October 2010 – The President of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) today voiced appreciation for the trust countries place in the principal judicial organ of the United Nations for settling a wide variety of legal disputes, saying this highlights the importance given to the rule of law.

Hisashi Owada, President of the ICJ, told the General Assembly that the Court’s docket of pending cases has been consistently growing in recent years, now standing at 16 cases, involving approximately 30 different States from all regions of the world.

“The increased recourse by States to the International Court of Justice for the judicial settlement of their disputes testifies to the growing consciousness among political leaders of these States of the importance of the rule of law in the international community,” he said as he presented the Court’s annual report, covering the period from 1 August 2009 to 31 July 2010.

Established in 1945 under the UN Charter, the ICJ – sometimes referred to as the World Court – settles legal disputes between States and gives advisory opinions on legal questions that have been referred to it by authorized UN organs or specialized agencies.

Among the cases submitted to the Court this year is the border dispute between the West African countries of Burkina Faso and Niger, as well as a suit filed by Australia against Japan for allegedly breaching international law regarding whaling.

In addition to the judgements rendered over the past year, the Court issued an advisory opinion in July, in response to a request by the General Assembly, stating that Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence from Serbia in February 2008 did not violate international law.

Judge Owada noted that the rule of law now permeates every aspect of the UN’s activities, from the maintenance of peace and security to the protection of human rights, from the fight against poverty to the protection of the global environment.

“While every part of the Organization has a role to play in the promotion of the rule of law, the Court, as the principal judicial organ of the United Nations, is expected to play a central role in this area,” he stated.

“By working to strengthen the rule of law, the Organization can strengthen its moral fibres that are so essential to uniting an increasingly interconnected world,” he added.

Judges serving on the ICJ, which is based in The Hague, are chosen on the basis of their qualifications, not on the basis of nationality, and care is taken to ensure that the principal legal systems of the world are represented. No two judges can be from the same country. They cannot engage in any other occupation during their term of office.

The Court is currently comprises President Owada (Japan); Vice-President Peter Tomka (Slovakia); and Judges Abdul G. Koroma (Sierra Leone), Awn Shawkat Al-Khasawneh (Jordan), Joan E. Donoghue (United States) and Bruno Simma (Germany).

Judges Ronny Abraham (France), Kenneth Keith (New Zealand), Bernardo Sepúlveda-Amor (Mexico), Mohamed Bennouna (Morocco), Leonid Skotnikov (Russia), Antônio Augusto Cançado Trindade (Brazil), Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf (Somalia), Christopher Greenwood (United Kingdom) and Xue Hanqin (China) complete the 15-member body.




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