H. E. Judge Shi, President of the International Court of Justice: Mr. President, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a great honour for me, Mr. President, to greet you today on behalf of the International Court of Justice. May I extend to you a most cordial welcome on this august occasion.
As a law graduate from Leningrad State University, before you embarked upon your distinguished political career culminating in your election as President of the Russian Federation in 2000 and reelection in 2004, you have, Mr. President, claimed as your heritage the rich and varied Russian legal tradition. It is perhaps fitting for me to begin by recalling the fundamental contribution that Russia has made to the development of various crucial currents of thought in international law, and say a few words about some of the eminent Russian scholars and judges that have helped make the Court what it is today.
In the nineteenth century, international law developed into a discipline in its own right within Russian academia. Chairs of international law at various reputed universities were established and in 1880 the Russian “International Law Society” was created at St. Petersburg. The emergence in Russia of scholars of world class is evidence of the rapid progress of the Russian science of international law at that period. Professor Fedor Martens stands out in particular as a luminary of the epoch, as he was to play such a prominent role in the international peace movement; his dream of a temple of peace indeed inspired the creation of this Peace Palace. Convinced of the power of international law, Martens believed that brute force could never triumph over law or “stifle our feelings of right and justice”. In commemoration of his prominent role as an international lawyer, a bronze bust of Martens was presented to the Peace Palace in 1999 by the Russian Government.
Having cited the name of Martens, I cannot fail to elaborate on the significance of the contribution which Russia made to international humanitarian law in convening the First and Second Hague Peace Conferences. At the close of the nineteenth century, Czar Nicholas II invited nations to attend an international conference to discuss problems of world peace and disarmament. With the agreement of the young Queen of the Netherlands, Wilhelmina, The Hague was chosen as the seat of the Conference. At that first Hague Peace Conference, Baron de Staal, the head of the Russian delegation, was elected chairman of the Conference. At the Second Conference, the Russian Ambassador to Paris, Alexandr Nelidov, was elected Chairman. Professor Fedor Martens, as a prominent delegate of Russia, took an especially active part in the work of both Conferences, preparing a number of draft treaties and individual articles. In particular, he proposed what is now famously referred to as the “Martens clause”, a provision which has entered international humanitarian law as one of its basic principles. The “Martens clause” provides that, in all circumstances, whether there are specific rules in place or not, “civilians and combatants remain under the protection and authority of the principles of international law derived from established custom, from the principles of humanity and from the dictates of public conscience”. The Court made specific mention of the clause in its 1996 Advisory Opinion on the Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons, referring to it as one of “the cardinal principles contained in the texts constituting the fabric of humanitarian law” (para. 78) and pointing to its “continuing existence and applicability . . . as an affirmation that the principles and rules of humanitarian law apply to nuclear weapons” (para. 87).
Among other instruments, the Hague Conferences led to the signing of the Convention on the laws and customs of land warfare and the Convention for the pacific settlement of international disputes. Another feat of the Conferences was the unanimous agreement for the establishment of a Permanent Court of Arbitration. It was as a direct result of an initiative of Martens that the wealthy philanthropist Andrew Carnegie endowed a fund for the building of adequate headquarters for a “Temple of Peace” ѕ the genesis of the Peace Palace, which is now home to the International Court of Justice, the International Bureau of the Permanent Court of Arbitration, the Hague Academy of International Law and the Carnegie Foundation.
Mr. President, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
The twentieth century also witnessed Russia’s direct participation in the establishment of the United Nations and the International Court of Justice as its principal judicial organ. The United Nations Charter was signed by the prominent Russian jurist, Sergei Krylov, who was subsequently elected a Member of the Court. Many of the eminent Russian judges that have served with distinction at the Court came to office with direct experience of the United Nations. Russia’s support for the aims and objectives of the United Nations has continued unabated into the twentyfirst century. Just recently, on the occasion of the international conference on the “60th Anniversary of Victory, Establishment of the United Nations and International Law”, held in Moscow in June 2005, the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sergey Lavrov, declared that:
“Russia will continue to pursue a line on enhancing the United Nations role in the contemporary world. We are convinced that, as 60 years ago, it is only through joint efforts that mankind will be able to counter the threats and challenges before it successfully if it acts with reliance on the United Nations. Despite all the changes of recent years, this fundamental role of the United Nations remains unchanged.”
Mr. President, time does not allow me to speak of the many Russian scholars and diplomats who have continued to promote international law in the spirit of their predecessors ѕ from Professor Grigory Tunkin, who played a major role in formulating Soviet foreign policy and shaped the Soviet doctrine of international law of peaceful coexistence, to the present generation of Russian legal scholars. Suffice it to say that the Russian science of international law has produced a wealth of ideas, accompanied by a deep humanity and great scholarly prescience. Nowhere has this breadth of wisdom and learning been more apparent than in the contribution by judges from the Soviet Union, and now the Russian Federation, to the formation and development of the Court’s jurisprudence.
Judge Krylov, sitting on the Bench of this Court from 1946 to 1952, was a highly respected representative of the Russian tradition of international law. It is worth recalling that Krylov, in collaboration with Durdenevsky, wrote the first manual of international law in the Soviet Union. Judge Krylov’s successor, Judge Golunsky, was to assume office in 1952, but for health reasons never actually sat on the Bench. It is however noteworthy that as a member of the Advisory Committee of Jurists, he took an active part in the decision-making process at a crucial moment in the constitutional history of the Court, working in particular on its draft Statute. Judge Kojevnikov, who sat on the Bench between 1953 and 1961, published extensively on international law. He was followed by Judge Koretsky, who sat on the Bench between 1961 and 1970, and was VicePresident of the Court between 1967 and 1970. Judge Koretsky had previously served as Legal Adviser to the Soviet Delegation to the United Nations, and attended the 1946 Paris Peace Conference. Judge Morozov, who served the Court from 1970 to 1985, and his successor, Judge Tarrasov, who sat on the Bench from 1988 to 1994, represented the Soviet Union in various capacities on numerous United Nations bodies.
This brings me to the present day, and nothing gives me greater pleasure than to mention your compatriot, Judge Vladlen Vereshchetin, who joined the Court in 1995, and who has made such a significant contribution to the collegial decision-making process of the Bench. Judge Vereshchetin’s mental agility and natural intellectual curiosity have always enlivened the Court’s judicial debates and his insights into the Russian tradition of international law have been illuminating to his colleagues. As many of his predecessors, before being elected to the Court, Judge Vereshchetin had enjoyed a prestigious academic career, specializing in space law and had taken part in the work of various United Nations bodies, in particular, the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, and the International Law Commission, both as Member and Chairman of the latter.
In conclusion, Mr. President, at the heart of all of our endeavors to ensure the primacy of international law, lies the ideal of peace. We remain conscious, however, that peace does not derive from law alone and that judges are not its only arbiter. However, the International Court of Justice, the principal judicial organ of the United Nations, remains indispensable as a forum for the promotion of peace; through its contentious and advisory procedure, it plays a prominent part in settling disputes and preventing conflicts that threaten the international community. The Court continues to flourish with particular vigour, with 12 cases currently on its docket. The list of cases in recent years has continued to reflect the Court’s universality, with States from all continents of the world appearing before the Court. The subjectmatter of the proceedings before the Court remains extremely varied. There are currently a number of cases concerning territorial disputes between neighbouring States seeking a determination of their land and maritime boundaries, or a decision as to which of them has sovereignty over particular areas, for example, between Nicaragua and Honduras, Nicaragua and Colombia, Malaysia and Singapore, and between Romania and Ukraine. The Court is also dealing with issues of diplomatic protection of citizens in the case concerning Ahmadou Sadio Diallo between the Republic of Guinea and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. At present, deliberations are being held in the case concerning Armed Activities on the Territory of the Congo between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda, in which important issues relating to the use of force and human rights violations have been raised.
Your presence here today, Mr. President, bears witness to your country’s longstanding attachment to the cause of law and international justice. As your Minister for Foreign Affairs recently noted, the decisions of the Court “enjoy high authority” and serve “as an important instrument of peaceful settlement of disputes”. We welcome this encouragement in the fulfilment of our task; and we thank you, Mr. President, most warmly for being with us today.
Vladimir Putin: Your Honour, Mr Chairman of the International Court of Justice, dear judges, dear ladies and gentlemen!
Please allow me to thank you for the warm welcome you gave me here, in the historical Peace Palace, and for the warm words with which you addressed Russia and her citizens, For me, a student of the Russian school of law, it is a great honour to speak in the main judicial body of the United Nations. This meeting is very important. It has great value, both for our country and I hope, will contribute to the prestige of the International Court of Justice.
Mr Chairman, you described Russia's contribution to the activities of the International Court of Justice in detail, and our compatriots you listed are the pride and glory of Russian jurisprudence.
Mr Chairman, it is with special feeling that I would like to point out the selfless role of Feodor Feodorovich Martens, whom you mentioned. In many respects, it is due to his perseverance and brilliant mind that Russia's initiative for the first Peace Conference in 1899 was successfully carried out. It took place in the Hague, and defined this city as the capital of international justice forever more.
Together with this I would like to emphasize that Martens' ideas did not come from nowhere. All was based on the highest achievements of European philosophical and legal ideas. As a matter of fact, Martens developed the ideas of the outstanding European thinker Immanuel Kant, along with those of other philosophers and lawyers. This does not diminish the value of the Russian legal school's contribution, but shows that the Russian school of law is a natural part of world and European civilization and part of the European system of law. Drawing on the finest traditions of European law, the Russian legal system has many outstanding achievements and advances to its name, has helped to develop The Conference took place during troubled times. The fog of the First World War hung over all mankind. And one of the Conference's major results was the Convention for the Peaceful Adjustment of International Differences.
The establishment of the Permanent Court of Arbitration also had huge value. It was the first, permanent, universal mechanism for the peaceful resolution of international disputes.
However, the recognition of international justice was no less important. This innovative idea was born in our country and was selflessly defended by representatives of the progressive Russian legal school.
The views of Martens and many of his associates were set much further than the realities of that time. They rightly believed that international relations could be most fully implemented through a system of international governance, a system based on states' common goals and interests, and which should be maintained by international law.
However, to accept and implement these ideas for keeping the peace, mankind had to pass through the horror of two world wars. Only then did states unite and create the United Nations, whose Charter reflects universal approaches developed by outstanding lawyers.
They showed a great deal of responsibility for the world's destiny; we are obliged to continue their noble undertaking and to develop the means to keep the peace. History constantly reminds us of this and it is extremely important not to forget its lessons.
It is obvious that the international community needs to make additional efforts to use the United Nation's full potential to act as a unique means to resolve pressing international problems.
You well know that Russia's participation in the Summit 2005 once again confirmed its adherence to the principle of supremacy of international law. In Russia, this principle is one of the fundamental bases of the constitution. According to Article 15 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation, the commonly recognized principles and norms of the Moreover, if an international treaty of the Russian Federation stipulates other rules than those stipulated by the law, the rules of the international treaty apply. Adhering to international law is the fundamental concept of our foreign policy and national security.
I shall especially emphasize that the International Court of Justice's decisions and advisory opinions play a major role in strengthening and developing international legal principles and norms, and in making the rights and duties of states explicit. This has a positive influence on the universality of international law.
Once again I shall point out that very existence of the International Court of Justice is a most important condition for the UN’s stability and legitimacy, including with regard to developing and implementing a complex strategy to counteract the new threats and challenges that humanity faces today.
The International Court of Justice makes a huge contribution to preventing international conflicts and to the peaceful resolution of existing disputes. Finally, your activities promote international justice. This is possible due to the Court's independence, its special status and the unique composition of its judges.
Russia supports strengthening the role of the International Court of Justice and actively supported including the obligation of member states to resolve their disputes by peaceful And Mr Chairman, you have now told us about the very serious, major questions of international relations in which the Court is presently engaged.
Mr Chairman, we give great value to being represented in the International Court of Justice and consider the Russian legal school's contribution to the Court's activities a very important one.
In connection with this I am grateful to you for the kind words you addressed to the Russian judge, Mr Vereshchetin, and his predecessors. We hope that our tradition of participation in the Court will continue.
In conclusion, allow me to express once again my deep respect for the activities of the International Court of Justice and to thank you both for the invitation and for allowing me the opportunity to speak here.
I wish you success, and thank you very much for your attention.