Sumario: EU Presidency Statement - Report of the International Court of Justice (26 October 2006: New York)
Statement by H.E. Ms. Irma Ertman, Ambassador, Director General for Legal Affairs, Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, on behalf of the European Union, UN 61st Session; Agenda Item 70: Report of the International Court of Justice, New York
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union.
The Acceding Countries Bulgaria and Romania, the Candidate Countries Turkey, Croatia* and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, the countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia, and the EFTA countries Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, members of the European Economic Area, as well as Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova align themselves with this declaration.
It gives great pleasure to the European Union to congratulate the International Court of Justice on its 60th anniversary. The EU reaffirms its strong support for the Court.
We are happy to do so at a time when the international legal order is rapidly developing. This development is reflected in the work of the International Court of Justice, as states have been increasingly willing to submit disputes for settlement. Submitting a dispute to the Court is not -and must not- be considered a hostile act by the other party.
Being the principal judicial organ of the United Nations, the court is a cornerstone of the international legal order. It has significantly strengthened the international rule of law and has contributed to the respect for law. It not only continues to play an important role in the resolution of international disputes, it also prevents disputes to arise.
The Court is also to be seen in a wider context of international order. In the peaceful settlement of disputes, the Court plays an important role in maintaining and restoring international peace and security, as highlighted at the open debate on strengthening international law in the Security Council, in June, under the Danish presidency.
With the rapid expansion of its scope and growing specialisation, and in particular the development of special treaty regimes, international law is increasingly governing new areas of international life. This may herald new challenges to the international judiciary in their work of interpreting and applying this ever-expanding body of law. In that function, the ICJ undoubtedly has as central a role as ever, and deserves the full support of all members of the international community.
The ICJ is not the only international tribunal now at work. In recent years, we have witnessed the establishment of several new international courts of law. The ITLOS deals with matters that may also fall within the jurisdiction of the ICJ. Others, like the ICTY, the ICTR and the ICC deal with cases brought against individuals. All of them may be seen as complementing each other and strengthening the international legal order. Nevertheless, the ICJ, as the principal judicial organ of the United Nations, is the only truly universal court in the exercise of general jurisdiction in the settlement of international disputes between states.
The European Union is grateful to the President of the Court, Judge Rosalyn Higgins, for presenting the report of the work of the Court. The report clearly demonstrates that at the mature age of 60 the court -with presently 12 cases on its docket- is fully occupied. The Member States need to ensure that the Court has the resources it needs, given the importance of its task. In this context, the EU also recalls the trust fund established to assist states in the settlement of disputes through the Court.
The EU also commends the court for paying increasing attention to the development of the court's website, which gives instant access to the Court's judgments and reasonings, thus contributing to the wider dissemination and recognition of the work of the Court.
Finally Mme. President,
The obligation of states to settle their disputes through peaceful means lies at the heart of the international order. In this context, the European Union recalls the recommendation in the 2005 World Summit Outcome Document that states that have not yet done so consider accepting the jurisdiction of the Court in accordance with its Statute. The EU underlines the utmost importance of States to comply with the decisions of the ICJ.
I thank you.
* Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.