On behalf of Canada, Australia and my own country, New Zealand, I thank the President of the International Court of Justice, Judge Owada, for his helpful report of the work of the Court over the past year; and also thank him and Vice-President Judge Tomka for their leadership of the Court over that period.
CANZ congratulates Judges Xue and Donoghue on their recent election to the Court. We acknowledge the judicial service of their predecessors, Judges Shi and Buergenthal (both of whom resigned during the last year), and thank them for their valuable work during their terms of office.
CANZ takes this opportunity to reiterate its strong support for the work of the Court as the principal judicial organ of the United Nations. One of the primary goals of the United Nations, as stated in the Preamble to the UN Charter, is to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations of international law can be maintained. The International Court of Justice, as the only international court with general international law jurisdiction, is uniquely placed to further this goal. It plays an essential role in the peaceful resolution of disputes between States.
As the Court’s report records, disputes have been submitted to it by a variety of States from many regions. This diversity, together with the wide-ranging, significant and complex subject matter under deliberation and pending before the Court over the last year, bears testament to the importance that Member States attribute to the role of the Court in resolving international disputes.
The Court’s second function of providing advisory opinions on legal questions referred to it by organs of the United Nations and specialised agencies continues to fulfil the important role of clarifying key international law issues.
CANZ encourages Member States who have not yet done so to declare their acceptance of the Court’s compulsory jurisdiction; its report records that fewer than half the State Parties to the Statute of the Court have declared their acceptance of that jurisdiction. As more States accept the Court’s jurisdiction, it will have more time to consider the substance of cases, rather than objections to its jurisdiction.
CANZ recognises that, every year, the Court handles a significant and complex range of the cases and advisory opinions; and that it has successfully cleared a case backlog. We acknowledge and appreciate the Court’s efforts to enhance its efficiency, which will enable it to sustain an increasing workload and to manage, simultaneously, a demanding schedule of cases. CANZ is pleased that additional staff positions have been made available to the Court and that the upgrade of technical equipment at the Peace Palace will be realised. We hope this will improve the Court’s working environment and ease the processing of its heavy case load.CANZ values the contribution of the International Court of Justice in promoting the Rule of Law and the peaceful resolution of international disputes, thus fulfilling that critical Charter objective of establishing conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations of international law can be maintained.