As a small international player New Zealand places great importance on the international rule of law, supported by mechanisms to hold States to their international legal obligations and peacefully settle international disputes. The role of dispute settlement in securing and preserving international peace and security is enshrined as a core principle of the United Nations Charter. Compulsory procedures to settle State-to-State disputes are a key element of both the World Trade Organisation system and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. International tribunals with jurisdiction to try individuals accused of the gravest international crimes, such as the International Criminal Tribunals for the Former Yugoslavia and Rwanda and the International Criminal Court, also play a vital role in ending impunity and restoring peace and stability.
New Zealand has sought assistance in settling international disputes from the International Court of Justice, International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea and the World Trade Organisation. New Zealand was one of the key proponents in establishing the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, and has also been a consistently strong supporter of the permanent International Criminal Court. New Zealanders currently serve as judges on the International Court of Justice, the Extraordinary Chambers of the Courts of Cambodia established to try crimes committed by the Khmer Rouge and the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.