Remarks by Peter Tomka.

Author:Tomka, Peter

Good afternoon. Thank you very much for the invitation and the introduction. Well, I have to speak about the International Court of Justice, but I think this is the institution which is so well-known to this public that it does not need reintroduction. The International Court of Justice, which has been in existence since 1946, was formally established in 1945 as principal judicial organ of the United Nations, and has been exercising its judicial function since 1946.

But this institution is successor to another great judicial body, the Permanent Court of International Justice, which started its work in 1922. So, in fact, this year we are celebrating 90 years of international judiciary.

When the Permanent Court of International Justice formally ended on the last day of January 1946, the International Court inherited its jurisprudence and further developed it. Through its adjudicative role and also through another function, which is to provide advisory opinions, the Court has greatly contributed to the development of international law, in clarifying particular rules of customary international law. We have to keep in mind when the first Permanent Court started, but also the situation has not changed dramatically throughout the late 1940s and 1950s, as international law remained mostly uncodified. The Court clarified rules of international law in such important branches of public international law, as the law of treaties and the law of state responsibility, just to mention the famous Chorzow Factory judgment of the Permanent Court, which is constantly referred to by counsel before the International Court of Justice.

The United Nations embarked upon the very successful task of codifying international law, in particular through the work of the International Law Commission. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in his report in 1997, emphasized that it was in the normative area where the United Nations achieved its greatest success. So the work of the Court provided a solid basis for special rapporteurs and the International Law Commission to codify customary international law. It provided support for the views of the Commission. This approach was later on transformed into a dialogue between the International Law Commission and the International Court of Justice, as the Court later in its decisions referred to instruments which have been elaborated by the International Law Commission, and either adopted by states in the form of conventions or in the form...

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