Statement of the Republic of Cyprus at the 75th session of the UN General Assembly on Item 74 “Report of the International Court of Justice”, on 3 Nov. 2020
At the outset, allow me to thank President Yusuf for his introduction of this year’s report of the International Court of Justice and to welcome the intense level of the Court’s activity during the reporting period, including the handing down of three judgements and seven procedural orders, the indication of provisional measures in one case, as well as the holding of public hearings in five cases. We also note the wide variety of subjects involved in the cases submitted to the Court, illustrating once more the general character of the Court’s jurisdiction.
As we commemorate the 75th anniversary of the United Nations, we should recall that one of the greatest success stories of the organization is ‘the increased reliance on the rule of law in international relations as opposed to arbitrary power, and the settlement of disputes by peaceful means rather than by force’, to use the recent words of President Yusuf.
The Court remains a key part of the system of collective security of the UN Charter, as the judicial mechanism for the peaceful settlement of disputes among states, and it plays a crucial role in maintaining and promoting the rule of law throughout the world. The enhancement of the international rule of law is fundamental to the reinforcement of multilateralism, for the maintenance of peace, security, and the protection of human rights. Despite its increasing workload over the years, including a number of complex cases, the Court admirably managed to fulfil its task with success and Member States have been placing more trust in the Court for the settlement of their disputes. The level of compliance with the Court’s judgments is also one of the factors which have strongly motivated states to come to the Court to resolve their disputes. It is thus imperative that the decisions of the Court are universally accepted and implemented, without any exceptions.
It is also of utmost importance, in the current difficult financial situation of the United Nations, to make sure that the ICJ has at its disposal, the financial means and the technological tools, to fulfil its functions fully and seamlessly.
When it comes to acceptance of the Court’s jurisdiction, as of July 2020, 193 States had become parties to the Statute of the Court and 74 of them had deposited with the Secretary‑General a declaration of acceptance of the Court’s compulsory jurisdiction in accordance with article 36 of the Statute. There is much room for improvement in this regard. My country recognized the compulsory jurisdiction of the ICJ in 1988, and we encourage more member states to do the same, while noting that the Court’s jurisdiction continues to be recognized also through compromisory clauses in treaties and though special agreements for a particular dispute.
Cyprus is a strong supporter of the Court and its pivotal role, and has full confidence in its impartiality and effectiveness. As a peaceful country and a firm believer in international law and effective multilateralism, Cyprus adheres to the principles of the Court and attaches great importance to all peaceful means of dispute settlement pursuant to Articles 2 (3) and 33 of the UN Charter, including in the area of the law of the sea.
I would like also to emphasize that the Court’s judgements have undoubtedly played a crucial role in the process of codification and progressive development of certain fundamental rules and principles of the law of the sea, which are embodied today in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. In this context, my country has on several occasions expressed its readiness to engage in negotiations with any relevant country, with a view to reaching a peaceful settlement in good faith, for the delimitation of maritime zones in the Eastern Mediterranean, in full respect of international law and in accordance with the principle of good neighbourly relations, and in case of failure to reach an agreement, to settle the dispute at the ICJ.
Finally, I would like to commend the Court for the successful adoption of measures to contain the COVID-19 pandemic during the period under review, that allowed the Court to continue its judicial work during these challenging times, including by making the necessary arrangements to hold virtual meetings and adapting its working methods to allow tasks to be carried out remotely during the pandemic.
Permanent Representative of the Republic of Cyprus to the United Nations, Ambassador Andreas D. Mavroyiannis