Antonio Guterres, UN Secretary-General. Remarks to the UN Security Council Thematic Debate on the Rule of Law amongst Nations, January 12, 2023
Benjamin Ferencz (1920-2023), Prosecutor at the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunals. International champion of international law who popularised the motto ‘Law not War.’
LAW not War is a new global campaign to enhance the jurisdiction and use of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in order to assist countries resolve international disputes peacefully rather than through recourse to the threat or use of force.
The principal objective of the campaign is to increase the number of States accepting the compulsory jurisdiction of the ICJ, with the aspiration to achieve universal acceptance of jurisdiction by 2045, the 100th anniversary of the United Nations.
In addition, the campaign works to enhance ICJ jurisdiction through:
The campaign employs a mixture of education about the value and impact of ICJ jurisdiction, and advocacy to enhance such jurisdiction.
The ICJ has had considerable success at resolving international disputes, including some that involved the threat or use of force. Examples include:
The authority of the ICJ within the United Nations system, and the unique contribution the ICJ plays with respect to the application of the law, ensures that its decisions exert considerable influence and impact on the parties and other stakeholders in its cases.
An analysis of ICJ cases undertaken by Judge C.G. Weeramantry (former Vice-President of the ICJ), for example, indicated that approximately 90% of ICJ cases are implemented – either fully or mostly.
However, its role is limited by the fact that its jurisdiction is based on voluntary acceptance. As such, many disputes that could potentially be resolved with the help of the ICJ are not brought to the court because of refusal of one or more parties to accept its jurisdiction.
ICJ jurisdiction is conferred through a variety of processes including:
LAW not War is working to increase acceptance and use of ICJ jurisdiction through all four of these processes, but is placing a strong focus on enhancing the first process list above – increasing the number of voluntary declarations accepting ICJ jurisdiction for any international legal disputes.
The LAW not War campaign is building connection and cooperation with a like-minded group of countries that has produced a Handbook on accepting the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice and released a Declaration on promoting the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice which promotes the handbook and encourages states to accept jurisdiction of the Court both generally and in specific circumstances. 33 countries have now endorsed the declaration.
The International Court of Justice is a key global governance mechanism for enhancing common security, i.e. peace and security for all. The LAW not War campaign therefore works as part of – or in cooperation with – other common security campaigns and initiatives including the UNFOLD ZERO Common Security platform, the WFM-IGP Abolish War through Common Security and the Law program and the Common Security v Nuclear Deterrence initiative.
The UN Summit of the Future, scheduled for September 2024, provides an opportunity to highlight the role of the ICJ and build support for universal acceptance of its jurisdiction.
A large number of civil society organizations, facilitated by the Coalition for the UN We Need, have been consulting and cooperating on a Peoples Pact for the Future which includes 33 recommendations to the Summit that have considerable support around the world. One of these is the recommendation that “all UN Member States should be encouraged to accede, by no later than 2035, to the compulsory jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice to ensure the peaceful settlement of disputes.“
C4UN will organise a second Global Futures Forum in May 2024 to build political traction for the recommendations in the Peoples Pact for the Future.
LAW not War is a joint campaign established and managed (cosponsored) by:
Participating organizations include:
Join this growing number of LAW not War participating organizations