Statement by H.E. Mr. Tsuneo Nishida
Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations
On Agenda Item 71:
Report of the International Court of Justice
United Nations General Assembly
1 November 2012
Mr. President of the General Assembly,
Mr. President of the International Court of Justice,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
At the outset, I would like to congratulate President Peter Tomka for his election as President of the International Court of Justice and I thank him for his comprehensive and detailed report on the praiseworthy work of the Court over the past year. His report highlights the important role the Court plays in inter-state conflict resolutions by peaceful means. Japan would like to take this opportunity to commend the work of the Court under the leadership of President Tomka.
At no time in history does the Court occupy such a preponderant role in the international legal system as it does at this present time. Our delegation welcomes the growing trend towards a greater use of the Court by Member States from all corners of the world. The wide variety of subject matters of disputes referred to the ICJ, from territorial and maritime boundary questions to rights of individuals, further testifies to the confidence that Member States place in the vigorous judicial work achieved by the Court.
My government fully appreciates that the Court is also at its busiest time in its history, particularly over the last few years and that its work schedule has reached its maximum level. As President Tomka mentioned in his statement at the high-level meeting on the rule of law held on 24 September 2012, the Court rendered 60 judgments since 1990, as compared to 52 judgments delivered during the first 44 years. This achievement is all the more remarkable in light of the fact that the Court maintained high quality work through the judicial rigor of the Members of the Court with the support of the highly dedicated Registry, an element that truly places the Court as the principal judicial organ of the United Nations. Japan commends the Court for continuing to make efforts to re-examine its procedures and working methods in order to conduct its activity in a sustainable manner while assuming the challenging task of warranting impartiality against political pressures, and respect for equality between parties to the dispute.
As the recent high-level meeting on the rule of law made clear, the enhancement of the rule of law has now become a common priority agenda of the international community. Indeed, again at no time in history do we hear every day the mounting expectations across the globe for international law to serve as a device for disentangling the heated controversies and diffusing the tensions by providing the actors with a common language. My government strongly believes the international community must seize this moment to make international law play a more important role in international relations. Threat or use of force is prohibited under international law and should no longer be resorted to as a means to resolve conflicts. But the reality is that more needs to be done. The international community as a whole needs to recommit itself to establishing the primacy of international law as well as to settling disputes through peaceful means, including by judicial mechanisms. Japan is committed to upholding the rule of law in international relations. As my government has reiterated on many occasions, the universal acceptance of the Court’s jurisdiction by Member States is a key step forward in enabling the enhancement of the rule of law at the international level. Japan itself has steadfastly accepted the compulsory jurisdiction of the ICJ since 1958. Our delegation calls upon all Member States that have not yet done so to accept the jurisdiction of the ICJ.
Finally, Mr. President, we cannot overemphasize the importance of strengthening the functioning of the Court. Japan will continue to contribute to the efficient and effective work of the ICJ and wishes the Court every success in its endeavor.
I thank you.