Remarks at the 22nd Plenary Meeting Agenda Item 74: Report of the International Court of Justice

T.H. Mr. Tom Carnahan
U.S. Representative to the 76th Session of the UN General Assembly
New York, New York
October 28, 2021


Thank you, Mr. President, and thank you, President Donoghue, for your informative briefing today.

We are also pleased to join so many others today in extending our thanks and commendation to you, President Donoghue in your first year as President of the Court, to your fellow judges, and to all of the staff of the ICJ for your tireless dedication to international law and for carrying out the vital role of the Court. The United States also extends its condolences on the passing of Judge James Crawford, a distinguished jurist and scholar of international law whose work made a lasting impact by advancing the peaceful settlement of international disputes.

The International Court of Justice stands at the pinnacle of the international judicial system. We are pleased to continue to recognize the Court’s contributions to the realization of the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

As in years past, we see states increasingly turning to the Court and to other regional courts and international judicial tribunals to resolve their disputes.

By providing a trusted channel for states to resolve some disputes up front, and helping to diffuse others before they escalate, the Court continues to fulfill its Chapter Fourteen mandate, play a vital role in promoting and preserving the rule of law, and in advancing international peace and security through the peaceful resolution of disputes. It is gratifying to know that for those Member States that accept its jurisdiction, the ICJ stands ready to adjudicate their disputes.

At the same time, it is important to continue to emphasize that consent is central to maintaining the credibility of the Court’s work. In that regard, it is also critical to maintain the distinction between the Court’s contentious and advisory jurisdiction as set out in the Statute.

The General Assembly’s ability to request advisory opinions is an important one; it allows the General Assembly to seek assistance from the ICJ in carrying out its functions under the UN Charter. However, we must be cautious not to allow this important tool to be misused for political gain or to circumvent the Court’s jurisdiction over contentious proceedings.

The advisory function of the ICJ was not intended to settle disputes between states.

In conclusion, this year we again commend the efforts of the Court to ensure the continuity of its work in light of the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. We hope that the Court’s

experiences in adopting innovations to continue work under these challenging circumstances will prove beneficial in the future.

Thank you, Mr. President.