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Statement on behalf of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, 78th Session of the United Nations General Assembly Agenda item 73 “Report of the International Court of Justice” United Nations, New York, 3 November 2023

Created: 2023.11.03 / Updated: 2023.11.06 15:11
    Statement on behalf of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, 78th Session of the United Nations General Assembly Agenda item 73 “Report of the International Court of Justice” United Nations, New York, 3 November 2023

    Statement on behalf of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, 78th Session of the United Nations General Assembly Agenda item 73 “Report of the International Court of Justice” United Nations, New York, 3 November 2023

    Mister President,

    Distinguished Delegates,

     

    I have the honour to speak today on behalf of the three Baltic States - Estonia, Latvia and my own country, Lithuania.

     

    The Baltic States align with the statement made by the European Union and its Members States.

     

    Firstly, we would like to thank President Joan E. Donoghue for presenting the report of the International Court of Justice covering the period 1 August 2022 – 31 July 2023. The Baltic States welcome the report and commend the important work of the Court.

    The issues that the Court is facing are global in nature and concerns environmental protection, terrorism, drug trafficking, human trafficking, globalization. It has also faced a widening geographical representation of the States addressing the Court. The report of the ICJ evidently illustrates that States making recourse to the International Court of Justice are confident that the Court with its universal character, unique mandate, impartiality and integrity, authoritative value of its decisions, high legal standards, vast expertise and comprehensive jurisprudence, is a pillar of the rules-based international order and plays a vital role in the peaceful settlement of disputes.

    Relying on its authority in the international community the Court continues to play a fundamental role in the prevention and settlement of international disputes between States pacifically as well as developing international law, advancing the rule of law globally, and directly contributing to the maintenance of international peace and security. The contribution of the Court is also crucial for maintaining the health of planet Earth, as we witness the dramatic consequences caused by climate change. Therefore, the international community is looking forward to the legal guidance of the ICJ on issues concerning obligations of States enshrined in international environmental law.

    Therefore, we would like to express our appreciation for the dedicated daily work of the Court, its’ judges and all staff and welcome the Court’s ongoing efforts in improving its procedures and working methods. We reiterate our strong support to the preeminent role of the International Court of Justice as the principal judicial organ of the United Nation.

     

    Mister President,

     

    We firmly believe that the principle of peaceful settlement of disputes and respect for international law must be the main guidance for the conduct of all States, as enshrined in the United Nations Charter. Therefore, we consider that further universal acceptance of the jurisdiction of the Court needs to be enhanced and call on remaining UN Member States, which have not done it yet, to accept the jurisdiction of the Court, to enhance its universal reach.

     

    We, the Baltic States, remain confident that the Court will continue to successfully perform its crucial mandate in ensuring justice and contributing to stability and peace in the world. The war of aggression of Russia against Ukraine very poignantly demonstrates the need of the ICJ to deliver on its mandate.

     

    Mister President,

     

    It is noteworthy that the International Court of Justice's rulings entails significant and far-reaching consequences, and we commend that the vast majority of the rulings of the ICJ are implemented by the parties to the dispute and recognized by third States.

    However, in certain cases the lack of enforcement power of Court’s decisions remains an important factor. In particularly in those situations when the Security Council is paralysed by veto power of one of its permanent members, we believe international community should find means to ensure that decisions including orders of the Court for provisional measures are complied with. As the most obvious example being the Court’s binding order on provisional measures on 16 March 2022, which orders Russia to immediately cease its military actions that it commenced on 24 February 2022 in the territory of Ukraine. Russia has not obeyed it, as the war of aggression is continuing for more than twenty months already.

    In this regard, we are in favour of initiatives to reform the Security Council with the view of restraining the veto power of its permanent members when it concerns matters related to maintenance or restoration of international peace and security. The reform should also empower the Security Council with strengthened role in supervising execution of the decisions of the Court. The blocking by Russia of the UN Security Council's attempt to address the matters related to the aggression, reveals the limitations of the UN system and the need for it to be revisited.

    Mister President,

    We commend the Court for the ongoing efforts in improving its procedures and working methods. It is our strong believe, that further digitalisation of the procedures and working methods deserves careful and in-depth consideration. The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the importance, necessity and utility of incorporating new technologies in many areas of our lives, including our justice systems. Technologies and digitalization can facilitate judicial procedures and the participation of the parties to the proceedings.

    Mister President,

     

    Let me conclude by citing the first President of the General Assembly, Paul-Henri Spaak: “I would not venture to assert that the International Court of Justice is the most important organ of the United Nations; but I think I may say that in any case is none more important”.

     

    I thank you.

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