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UNITED
NATIONS
A

        General Assembly
A/59/PV.49
4 November 2004

Official Records
General Assembly
Fifty-ninth session
49th plenary meeting
Thursday, 4 November 2004, 9.30 a.m.
New York
President:Mr. Ping (Gabon)


The meeting was called to order at 9.40 a.m.

...

Agenda item 13


Report of the International Court of Justice


Report of the International Court of Justice (A/59/4)


Report by the Secretary-General (A/59/372)

The President (spoke in French ): May I take it that the Assembly takes note of the report of the International Court of Justice?

It was so decided.

The President ( spoke in French ): In connection with this item, the Assembly also has before it a report of the Secretary-General on the Secretary-General’s Trust Fund to Assist States in the Settlement of Disputes through the International Court of Justice, which has been circulated in document A/59/372.

I call on Mr. Shi Jiuyong, President of the International Court of Justice.

Mr. Shi Jiuyong (International Court of Justice): ...

...

Finally, on 9 July this year, in response to a request by the General Assembly, the Court rendered its Advisory Opinion on the Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

Before addressing the question posed by the General Assembly, the Court considered whether it had jurisdiction to respond to the request and examined the judicial propriety of exercising its jurisdiction in that instance. The Court found, unanimously, that it had jurisdiction to give the advisory opinion and decided, by 14 votes to one, to accede to the request.

Having dealt with those preliminary issues, the Court then addressed the legality of the construction of the wall, as a precursor to dealing with the legal consequences of its construction.

The Court found, by 14 votes to one, that the construction of the wall being built by Israel, the occupying Power, in the occupied Palestinian territory, including in and around East Jerusalem, and its associated regime, are contrary to international law.

With regard to the legal consequences of these violations, the Court distinguished between the consequences for Israel, those for other States and those for the United Nations. Turning firstly to the consequences for Israel, the Court, by 14 votes to one, found that Israel is under an obligation to terminate its breaches of international law, and that it is under an obligation to cease forthwith the work of construction of the wall being built in the occupied Palestinian territory, including in and around East Jerusalem, to dismantle forthwith the structure therein situated, and to repeal or render ineffective forthwith all legislative and regulatory acts relating thereto.

The Court further decided, again by 14 votes to one, that Israel is under an obligation to make reparations for all damage caused by the construction of the wall in the occupied Palestinian territory, including in and around East Jerusalem.

In respect of the consequences for other States, the Court found, by 13 votes to two, that all States are under an obligation not to recognize the illegal situation resulting from the construction of the wall and not to render aid or assistance in maintaining the situation created by such construction and that, in addition, all States parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War of 12 August 1949, have the obligation, while respecting the United Nations Charter and international law, to ensure compliance by Israel with international humanitarian law as embodied in that Convention.

Finally, with regard to the United Nations, the Court found, by 14 votes to one, that the United Nations, and especially the General Assembly and the Security Council, should consider what further action is required to bring to an end the illegal situation resulting from the construction of the wall and its associated regime, taking due account of the advisory opinion.

In the preparation of its advisory opinion, the Court examined the international law principles relating to the prohibition of the threat or use of force, and the extant rules governing the acquisition and occupation of territory. It also addressed the principle of self-determination, and considered the applicability of international humanitarian law and human rights law in the occupied Palestinian territory.

As well as reviewing these vital elements of international law, which are enshrined in numerous treaties, including the United Nations Charter, and in customary law, and reflected in various resolutions of the General Assembly, the Court also recognized the need for the construction of the wall to be placed in a more general context. In particular, the Court noted that Israel and Palestine are under an obligation scrupulously to observe the rules of international humanitarian law, and expressed the view that the tragic situation in the region can be brought to an end only through the implementation in good faith of all the relevant Security Council resolutions.

The Court also drew the attention of the General Assembly to the need for efforts to be encouraged with a view to achieving as soon as possible, on the basis of international law, a negotiated solution to the outstanding problems and the establishment of a Palestinian State, existing side by side with Israel and its other neighbours, with peace and security for all in the region.

...

Mr. Rastam (Malaysia): ...

...

In view of the increased workload of the Court, there is an urgent need to strengthen its capacity to efficiently dispose of the cases before it, as well as to undertake the additional administrative responsibilities arising therefrom. At the same time, we are pleased to note that the Court reviewed its procedures and working methods so as to further increase its productivity. As emphasized in the report, even after taking various measures, the Court will require additional funds for the 2004-2005 budget because of the extraordinary and unforeseen costs associated with, inter alia, security requirements and media demands incurred in connection with the issuance of the advisory opinion on the question of the Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory .

That advisory opinion — which, inter alia, ruled that the construction of the wall by Israel, the occupying Power, is contrary to international law and that Israel is under obligation to terminate its breaches of international law — is indeed a significant milestone in the long-running effort to bring to an end the suffering of and dire humanitarian consequences faced by the people in the occupied Palestinian territory and to ensure a just and lasting solution to the question of Palestine. Malaysia is pleased to have participated, through both written and oral submissions, in the open hearings at the Court in February 2004. We consider the whole process of seeking and rendering the advisory opinion to have been a clear manifestation of the healthy relationship between the General Assembly and the Court, as envisaged under the Charter. We are, however, very disappointed that the advisory opinion has not been heeded by Israel.

...

Mr. Mekdad (Syrian Arab Republic) (spoke in Arabic): ...

...

The report submitted by Judge Shi Jiuyong, President of the International Court of Justice, refers to a large number of cases of which the Court has been seized recently, as well as the results achieved and the respect that those decisions have received. I would like to refer in particular to the advisory opinion, which was adopted almost unanimously, condemning the construction of a wall by Israel on occupied Palestinian territory. The members of the Court stated almost unanimously that the building of that wall on occupied Palestinian territory was contrary to international law and that Israel should refrain from its violations put an end to the building of the wall and make the necessary reparations. We should also note that in its advisory opinion the Court stated that all States are bound not to recognize the legal situation arising from the building of the wall and should press Israel to respect international humanitarian law, as embodied in the Fourth Geneva Convention.

The advisory opinion also declared that the United Nations, including the Security Council and the General Assembly, should take all necessary measures to put an end to the unlawful situation that has arisen from the building of the wall; we expect those bodies to play their proper role.

The International Court of Justice, the instrument that the United Nations has for carrying out justice, has expressed its opinion. What is more important, therefore, is to implement the advisory opinion. The peoples of the world who believe in justice are waiting for the implementation of the advisory opinion. Justice is not simply an opinion; its true value lies in its implementation.

We believe that the peoples of the United Nations are anxious to see justice prevail, including justice for the future of the Palestinian people, and to see the establishment of its own independent State on its own territory. Yet the world continues to witness Israel’s rejection of the provisions of international law and of the International Court of Justice’s advisory opinion.

Syria once again expresses its respect for the role and work of the Court, and along with other States Members of the Organization that are devoted to justice and the rule of law, we will be relentless in our efforts to strengthen the role of the International Court of Justice in all respects.

...

Mr. Ayua (Nigeria): ...

...

Nigeria commends the Court for upholding the rule of law within the United Nations system, as well as its positive contribution to international peace and security through its invaluable adjudicative role in resolving varied disputes among States. We also note the advisory opinion offered by Court in July 2004 on the question of the legal consequences of the construction of a wall in the occupied Palestinian territory .

...

Mr. Yáñez-Barnuevo (Spain) (spoke in Spanish ): ...

...

We should also underscore the importance of the advisory function of the Court, as can be seen from the Opinion issued in July 2004 on the legal consequences of the construction of a wall in the occupied Palestinian territory, an opinion requested by the General Assembly. This Advisory Opinion bears witness to the fact that international law, applied to a specific issue, may play a relevant role in addressing a prolonged conflict situation, such as the one in the Middle East, which affects the whole international community and which demands a speedy resolution that would be satisfactory to all parties in the interests of peace and justice.

...

The meeting rose at 12 p.m.

This record contains the text of speeches delivered in English and of the interpretation of speeches delivered in the other languages. Corrections should be submitted to the original languages only. They should be incorporated in a copy of the record and sent under the signature of a member of the delegation concerned to the Chief of the Verbatim Reporting Service, room C-154A. Corrections will be issued after the end of the session in a consolidated corrigendum.



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