This year marks the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the International Court of Justice. The court is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations. It was established by the UN Charter which was signed in 1945 in San Francisco and it began work in 1946 in the Peace Palace, The Hague, Netherlands.
The Court is composed of 15 international judges and has a dual role. First, it hears and decides contentious legal disputes between states. Examples of such cases are the recent Whaling in the Antarctic case between Australian and Japan and the Genocide cases between Balkan nations regarding atrocities committed during wars conducted in that region in 1990’s. Secondly, the ICJ issues advisory opinions on legal matters referred to it by authorized United Nations organs and specialized agencies.
As part of its 70th anniversary celebrations the ICJ held a two day seminar in the Hague in April on ‘The International Court of Justice at 70: In Retrospect and In Prospect’. The seminar was organised by the ICJ judges and in particular His Excellency, Judge James Crawford, the Australian judge on the court. Leading professors, state representatives and counsel who are experts in international law and have appeared before the ICJ were invited to attend. Attendees from Australia included the Australian Solicitor-General and the Australian Ambassador to the Netherlands.
Magda Karagiannakis, an academic from La Trobe Law School was invited and attended the conference. She reflected on the event saying:
It was a great privilege to be invited and attend this special anniversary as the sole academic from an Australian university. It was fascinating to hear the reflections of the ICJ Judges and leading academics and practitioners in the field, on the history of the court and its potential future directions.