The International Court of Justice (ICJ), celebrated its 70th anniversary on Wednesday in a solemn ceremony attended by UN Secretary General, Ban Ki moon and King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands.
Ban noted at the celebration in The Hague that over the years, the ICJ as the principle judicial organ of the UN had made a central contribution to the rule of law.
He said that it had stepped in effectively where diplomatic or political measures had failed and had also helped countries to settle their disputes by peaceful means.
The UN chief called on all States to reaffirm their commitment to resolve disputes by peaceful means.
“The importance of resolving disputes peacefully and in accordance with international law has never been more urgent,’’ he said.
Ban described conflict as the most efficient method of derailing development known to humankind.
He said that it had therefore become essential that all States reaffirmed their commitment under the Charter to resolve disputes by peaceful means.
Antonio Gumende, Vice-President of the UN General Assembly, commended the court as being “a world court, truly universal and its openness to all States.’’
He also salutes the courts courage in terms of the enormous range of issues with which it deals, which includes; boundary disputes, diplomatic protection, genocide, use of force, and even the development of environmental law and human rights among others.
China’s permanent representative to the UN and President of the Security Council for the month of April, Liu Jieyi, congratulated the anniversary of the Court in a video message.
“The world is undergoing fast and far-reaching changes. Never before have countries been so interdependent and bound by common destiny.
“Never before has the international immunity faced such common opportunities and challenges,’’ he said.
Jieyi said that the trend toward multi-polarity, the rise of emerging markets and developing countries, the deepening globalisation and the advent of the information age set the context of today’s world.
He said that the international community places high hopes in the Court.
Jieyi reiterated that the Council expected the Court, as a key guardian of the international legal order, to keep abreast of the times and continue to contribute to the lofty goals of the United Nations.
The ceremony was attended by members of the diplomatic corps, representatives of the Dutch government and other Dutch institutions, senior officials of international organizations based in The Hague and others.
The ICJ was established by the UN Charter in June 1945 and began its activities in April 1946.
Its role is to settle legal disputes submitted to it by States and to give advisory opinions on legal questions referred to it by authorised UN organs and specialised agencies, in accordance with international law.In the past 70 years, contentious proceedings before the Court have involved some 91 States, among which 28 from Europe, 25 from Africa, 20 from Asia/Oceania and 18 from the Americas.
In this period of time, 200 decisions have been rendered, including 121 judgments handed down to States, and some 50 urgent orders handed down to States and 27 advisory opinions given to the UN, according to the ICJ.
Half of the judgments have been issued during the past two decades and the ICJ settles 85 percent of cases between States in five years or less.
The Court consists of 15 judges of 15 different nationalities, who are elected by the General Assembly and the Security Council and have a term of office of nine years.
It has an annual budget of approximately 26 million dollars, which is less than 1 per cent of the UN’s regular budget, and a staff of approximately 115 people.