NEW YORK – Ahead of his departure, Japan’s long-serving judge at the International Court of Justice, Hisashi Owada, said Thursday that it is critical for the U.N. Security Council to work in concert with the high court in the name of justice to help maintain peace around the globe.
“The International Court of Justice can have a role to play in actively contributing to the maintenance of peace and security in parallel with the Security Council, which bears primary responsibility for this purpose,” he said at a high-level meeting.
The 85-year-old judge was among leading experts who weighed in at the daylong event focused on international law. It attracted high-level politicians at a time when such discussions are especially relevant, with multiple crises converging and posing challenges to the international body.
Owada is one of 15 judges serving nine-year terms after confirmation by the U.N. General Assembly and Security Council. He began his first term in 2003, and announced his intention to step down from the post in February. It is expected to be the last time he will deliver remarks in New York in his current capacity.
Based in The Hague, the International Court of Justice is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations. It functions to settle disputes between member states and present advisory opinions.
In reference to justice and its importance, Owada emphasized the vital role that the ICJ plays because it “signifies that international peace and security is to be maintained in parallel with the realization of justice.”
Japanese Ambassador to the United Nations Koro Bessho noted that the ICJ and the 15-member Security Council, which can adopt resolutions, are the international body’s only two organs “capable of making legally binding decisions.”
While their mandates are different, the envoy said, “they can work complementarily and in a mutually reinforcing manner.”
He also pointed to how the powerful council could benefit from “coordinating” with the ICJ and other mechanisms, including the International Criminal Court, to tackle a host of hotly contested issues.
With Owada’s departure on the horizon, Bessho and U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley were among those who praised his long service.