H.E. SYED MOHAMAD HASRIN AIDID
PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF MALAYSIA TO THE UNITED NATIONS
ON ITEM 74: REPORT OF THE INTERNATIONAL COURT OF JUSTICE
AT THE PLENARY MEETING OF
THE 75TH SESSION OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY
NEW YORK, 3 NOVEMBER 2020
At the outset, allow me to thank Judge Abdulqawi A. Yusuf, President of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), for introducing the report.
2. My delegation aligns ourselves with the statement delivered by Azerbaijan on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM).
3. We note that during the reporting period under review, the Court has delivered judgments in three contentious cases, handed down seven procedural orders, held public hearings in five cases, and was seized in one new contentious case. The diversity of subject matter submitted to the Court, which now includes the settlement of disputes relating to contemporary challenges on the protection of human rights and the environment, illustrates the unique and universal character of the Court's jurisdiction.
4. The increasing number of cases brought before the Court is also a manifestation of a continued and enhanced confidence of Member States in the ICJ.
5. Malaysia remains committed to peaceful settlement of international disputes including through the Court. We have demonstrated this commitment in the cases of sovereignty over Pulau Ligitan and Pulau Sipadan, and sovereignty over Pulau Batu Puteh, Middle Rocks, and South Ledge.
6. My delegation also believes that the Advisory Opinions of the Court, despite having no binding force, carry great legal weight and moral authority. We are convinced that the ICJ’s Advisory Opinions contribute to the clarification and development of international law and in maintaining and strengthening peaceful relations between Member States.
7. Malaysia wishes to recall some of the historic Advisory Opinions rendered by the Court. First is on the Advisory Opinion of 8 July 1996 on the question: "Is the threat or use of nuclear weapons in any circumstance permitted under international law?”. For the first time in history, the Court recognized that the threat or use of nuclear weapons is generally contrary to the rules of international law applicable in armed conflict, particularly the rules and principles of humanitarian law. The Court further declared, unanimously, that "there exists a legal obligation to pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects under strict and effective international control”.
8. The pronouncements by the highest international legal authority on this subject are of historic importance and cannot be dismissed. With this opinion, the Court has set legal parameters whereby the use of nuclear weapons indeed ignores customary international law and international treaties. In respect of this Advisory Opinion, Malaysia, since 1996, has annually tabled to the First Committee and the General Assembly a resolution entitled "Follow-up to the Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice on the Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons."
9. Another example of important Advisory Opinion is on "Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory" dated 9 July 2004. The Court rendered its conclusion that Israel cannot rely on a right of self-defence on a state of necessity in order to preclude the wrongfulness of the construction of the wall. The Court also concluded that the construction of the wall is contrary to international law.
10. In this regard, we call on the relevant parties to observe and respect the recommendations and conclusions set out in the Advisory Opinions. We also encourage the organs of the United Nations to take advantage of the Court’s issuance of Advisory Opinions, as provided for under Article 96 paragraph 1 of the UN Charter. We remain convinced that deliberations on contentious political and security issues would be better served if supplemented by an authoritative legal opinion.
11. The adherence and respect for international law remain key to preserving international peace and security and in the upholding of the multilateral system. Let me conclude by reaffirming Malaysia's steadfast support of the ICJ's essential role in this endeavor.