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Press Release
UNITED NATIONS
Department of Public Information · News Coverage Service · New York


Fifty-ninth General Assembly
Plenary
49th Meeting (AM)
GA/10292
4 November 2004

DELEGATIONS EXPRESS WIDESPREAD SUPPORT FOR UN’S PRINCIPAL JUDICIAL ORGAN,
 
AS GENERAL ASSEMBLY TAKES UP INTERNATIONAL COURT OF JUSTICE REPORT


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Background

The General Assembly met today to consider the Report of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) (document A/59/4), which states that, as of 31 July this year, 191 States were now parties to the Statute of the Court, while 65 of them had deposited with the Secretary-General a declaration of acceptance of the Court’s compulsory jurisdiction in accordance with its Statute.  Further, some 300 bilateral or multilateral treaties provide for the Court to have jurisdiction in the resolution of disputes arising out of their application or interpretation. 

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The Court was also asked by the General Assembly to render an advisory opinion on the question of the legal consequences of the construction of the wall in the occupied Palestinian territory.  On 9 July this year, the ICJ rendered its advisory opinion, in which it first addressed the question of its jurisdiction to give the requested opinion and of the judicial propriety of exercising that jurisdiction.  The Court unanimously found that it had jurisdiction to give the said opinion and decided by a vote of 14 to 1 to comply with the request.  Then, before addressing the legal consequences of the construction of the wall, the Court considered the question of the legality of the construction of the wall.  It found by a vote of 14 to 1 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 régime, are contrary to international law.”

Regarding the legal consequences of the violations found, the Court distinguished between the consequences for Israel, those for other States, and, where appropriate, for the United Nations.  On the consequences for Israel, the ICJ, by 14 votes to 1, found that “Israel is under an obligation to terminate its breaches of international law; it is under an obligation to cease forthwith the works of construction of the wall being built on 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 also said that Israel is under an obligation to make reparation for all damage caused by the construction of the wall.

The Court found by 14 votes to 1 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 régime, taking due account of the present advisory opinion.

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International Court of Justice

SHI JIUYONG, President of the International Court of Justice, ...

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He said the Court’s budget for the 2004-2005 biennium had been agreed in advance with the Assembly’s urgent request for an advisory opinion on the legal consequences of the construction of a wall in the occupied Palestinian territory.  Both the public hearings and the delivery of that opinion attracted unprecedented world attention.  Meeting the demands of the media and providing adequate security placed a great burden on the Court’s resources.  He sincerely hoped that the allocation of such funds would be authorized as soon as possible so that the ICJ had the financial support to perform its role in the year ahead.

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RASTAM MOHD ISA (Malaysia) ...

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He went on to say that the Court’s advisory opinion, which ruled that the construction of the wall by Israel was contrary to international law and that Israel was obligated to terminate its breaches of international law, was a significant milestone in the long-running effort to bring to an end the sufferings and 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 was pleased to have participated through both written and oral submissions in the Open Hearing at the Court in February 2004.  The process of seeking and rendering the advisory opinion was a clear manifestation of the healthy relationship between the Assembly and the Court, as envisaged under the Charter.  He also welcomed the Court’s distribution of press releases, background notes and its handbook to keep the public informed of its work.

FAYSSAL MEKDAD (Syria) joined those that had conveyed condolences to the United Arab Emirates on the loss of its distinguished and visionary leader.  He said his country was anxious to see that international law was respected, and that the Court was the appropriate venue for ensuring justice and settling disputes between peoples and nations.  The Middle East region had been particularly affected by disputes and tensions that had turned into open conflicts, he said, highlighting a number of cases that had been decided by the Court, but focusing on the recent advisory opinion condemning Israel’s building of a wall in Gaza and the West Bank.

He was convinced that the international community should work to ensure that the Court’s opinions and decision were respected.  That was crucial in order to ensure the self-determination of the Palestinian people and the establishment of a Palestinian State, particularly since Israel had decided to disregard the ICJ’s advisory opinion.  Finally, he called for proper and steady funding to ensure that the Court could carry out its mandate unimpeded.

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AMINU BASHIR WALI (Nigeria) ...

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He also commended the measures aimed at rationalizing the Court’s work, adopted this past July, particularly its decision to increase the number of cases it could review by shortening the period between the closure of written proceedings and the opening of oral arguments.  Nigeria believed that adequate funding of the Court would enable the body to keep pace with advances in information and communication technologies (ICT), which could better help it carry out its duties.  To that end, the Court’s pending request to expand its Computerization Division from one to two professional officers should be given favourable consideration, along with the extrabudgetary expenditures that had arisen as a result of security safeguards put in place while it had been adjudicating the case concerning Israel’s construction of a wall in the occupied Palestinian territory.  In addition, Nigeria noted with appreciation the contributions made to the Trust Fund during the past year by Finland, Norway and Mexico.

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