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ICJ’s Annual Report for the 2019-2020 period

Every year the International Court of Justice (ICJ or Court) submits a report on its activities to the United Nations General Assembly. The report covers the period from 1 August of one year to 31 July of the next. It generally includes an introductory summary and information about the Court’s organization, jurisdiction and judicial work, together with reports of visits, events and lectures, the Court’s publications and documents, and administrative and budgetary issues.

The Annual report for 2019-2020 period provides an overview of the work of the Court (other annual reports available here). On 2 November 2020, H.E. Judge Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf, President of the ICJ, addressed the United Nations General Assembly on the occasion of the presentation of the Court’s Annual Report for the period from 1 August 2019 to 31 July 2020. In view of the COVID-19 pandemic, President Yusuf addressed the General Assembly by video link. For the ICJ President’s statements, including the recent one to the General Assembly see here.

During this reporting period the Court has handed down 3 judgments. At 31 July 2020, the number of cases entered in the Court’s List stood at 15 (Report, para. 8). These pending cases are namely:

  1. Gabčíkovo-Nagymaros Project (Hungary/Slovakia)
  2. Armed Activities on the Territory of the Congo (Democratic Republic of the Congo v. Uganda)
  3. Question of the Delimitation of the Continental Shelf between Nicaragua and Colombia beyond 200 nautical miles from the Nicaraguan Coast (Nicaragua v. Colombia)
  4. Alleged Violations of Sovereign Rights and Maritime Spaces in the Caribbean Sea (Nicaragua v. Colombia)
  5. Maritime Delimitation in the Indian Ocean (Somalia v. Kenya)
  6. Dispute over the Status and Use of the Waters of the Silala (Chile v. Bolivia)
  7. Immunities and Criminal Proceedings (Equatorial Guinea v. France)
  8. Certain Iranian Assets (Islamic Republic of Iran v. United States of America)
  9. Application of the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism and of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (Ukraine v. Russian Federation)
  10. Arbitral Award of 3 October 1899 (Guyana v. Venezuela)
  11. Application of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (Qatar v. United Arab Emirates)
  12. Alleged violations of the 1955 Treaty of Amity, Economic Relations, and Consular Rights (Islamic Republic of Iran v. United States of America)
  13. Relocation of the United States Embassy to Jerusalem (Palestine v. United States of America)
  14. Guatemala’s Territorial, Insular and Maritime Claim (Guatemala/Belize)
  15. Application of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (The Gambia v. Myanmar)

The pending contentious cases concern eight States from the Group of Asian and Pacific States, eight from the Group of Latin American and Caribbean States, six from the Group of African States, four from the Group of Eastern European States, and two from the Group of Western European and other States. The diverse geographical spread of cases is illustrative of the universal character of the jurisdiction of the United Nations’ principal judicial organ (Report, para. 9).  Cases submitted to the Court involve a wide variety of subjects, such as territorial and maritime disputes; diplomatic missions and consular offices; human rights; international responsibility and compensation for harm; interpretation and application of international treaties and conventions; environmental protection, and air law. This diversity of subject matter illustrates the general character of the Court’s jurisdiction (Report, para. 10). During the period under review, the Court received no requests for advisory opinions (Report, para. 12).

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic circumstances, the Court has continued to discharge its judicial functions. To that end, it has made the necessary arrangements to hold virtual meetings and to adapt its working methods to allow tasks to be carried out remotely during the pandemic; these steps led it to amend its Rules of Procedure. The Court’s Budgetary and Administrative Committee and several of its committees has held meetings by videoconference. The Court has used the same method to conduct plenary meetings for consideration of various judicial matters and the adoption of orders on procedural matters (Report, para. 41).

For more detailed information on the activity of the Court, please refer to the annual report itself.

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