Statement on behalf of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania by H.E. Mr. Rytis Paulauskas
77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly
Agenda item 70 “Report of the International Court of Justice”
United Nations, New York, 27 October 2022
I have the honor 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 Member 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 2021 – 31 July 2022. The Baltic States welcome the report and commend the important work of the Court.
During the reporting period the workload of the Court continued to increase due to diverse subject matter and a broad range of international law issues to be resolved, as well as a widening geographical representation of the States addressing the Court. That proves once again the Court’s crucial role in adjudicating legal disputes among the States, in promoting peaceful settlement of international disputes, developing international law, advancing the rule of law globally, and directly contributing to the maintenance of international peace and security.
Therefore, we would like to express our appreciation for the dedicated daily work of the International Court of Justice and welcome the Court’s ongoing efforts in improving its procedures and working methods, including by swiftly reacting and adopting prompt decisions in exceptional circumstances when addressing particularly urgent situations.
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. In this regard, we reiterate our strong support to the preeminent role of the International Court of Justice as the principal judicial organ of the United Nation and as reaffirmed in the Declaration on upholding and promoting respect for international law, including the principles of the UN Charter, adopted by the European Union and its Member States in June 2022.
We believe that the role of the Court in promoting the rule of law, ensuring respect for international law, and maintaining international peace can be reinforced by widening the application of its jurisdiction. We consider that further universal acceptance of the jurisdiction of the Court needs to be enhanced and, therefore, we call on all UN Member States that have not yet done so to accept the jurisdiction of the Court, to enhance its universal reach, as also called upon by the General Assembly most recently last year in the Resolution 76/117.
Moreover, in order to ensure successful judicial resolution of disputes it is not sufficient to establish the jurisdiction of the Court. International justice can only be pursued and the rule of law upheld by immediate and full implementation of binding rulings and decisions of the Court, including orders on provisional measures. Therefore, besides reminding the legal obligation of all States involved in a dispute before the Court to completely and unconditionally implement final rulings, as well as any provisional measures indicated by the Court, we believe international community should also find means to ensure that decisions of the Court are executed.
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.
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.
As a final remark, we would like to touch upon a pending ICJ case Ukraine v. Russian Federation under the Genocide Convention, where Ukraine seeks to establish that Russia has no lawful basis for ongoing, unprovoked and brutal military invasion of Ukraine on the grounds of unsubstantiated allegations of genocide. We commend the Court for initiating speedy proceedings and swift issuing of an 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. We welcome this legally binding order and strongly urge Russia to comply with it, as highlighted together with other like-minded states in the declaration of May 2022 and noted by the European Council in March.
Reaffirming our commitment to the rules-based international order and wishing to assist the ICJ in the administration of justice, the Baltic States, like many other States, have already filed their declarations of intervention as third parties in this case. The aim of the intervening contracting States of the Genocide Convention, while not having any interests of their own but merely having a common interest, is to assist the Court, as to the interpretation, application and fulfillment of the Genocide Convention and shed light on the extent of the obligations of the State parties. In this context, we encourage other contracting States, who have not yet done so, to consider intervention in the case.
Lastly, assuring justice and accountability is of vital importance to the credibility of the UN and its principle judicial organ. We, the Baltic States, reaffirm our strong and continued support to the mandate and activities of the Court on peaceful settlement of disputes and ensuring rules-based international order.
I thank you.