[JURIST] The International Court of Justice [official website] celebrated its 60th anniversary [ICJ anniversary website] Wednesday, holding a solemn sitting at the Hague. The ICJ is the highest legal body in the United Nations and has served as a judicial intermediary between member states since the end of World War II. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan [official profile] and General Assembly President Jan Eliasson [official profile] addressed [speech transcripts] those in attendance at the ceremony, speaking highly of member states' increasing use of the ICJ to settle disputes. Annan also urged member states "to consider recognizing the compulsory jurisdiction of the Court" and encouraged "states that are not yet prepared to recognize the compulsory jurisdiction to consider submitting their disputes to the Court by Special Agreements."
ICJ President Judge Rosalyn Higgins [official profile] also spoke [transcript], recognizing the contributions of international criminal tribunals, but emphasizing the court's unique value as the only international judicial body with general jurisdiction. Higgins also noted:
The Court lives in the real world. Changes in the world around us have their impact here, too. We must continue to provide that core predictability that distinguishes law from politics, but we have to do so in a way that is responsive to the legitimate needs and aspirations of the international community. There is a continuing leadership role for the International Court that will be achieved by our continuing commitment to quality and efficiency. In carefully balancing continuity and change, the Court will remain the lighthouse beacon in our ever expanding system of international law. This is the challenge for the period ahead.BBC News has more. The UN News Centre provides additional coverage.