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ICJ judges speak the language of international law

Posted: Friday, December 7, 2018. 11:15 a.m. CST.

By BBN Staff: Belizean journalists, last week, visited the International Court of Justice (ICJ) at The Hague in the Netherlands. The journalists were treated to a VIP tour inside the Peace Palace, meeting in the deliberation room and the Great Hall of Justice.

There, they met with several experts on international law who explained more about the functions and procedures of the court.

One of the experts underscored the fact that the ICJ is a judicial organ and is in no way a political organ, “ The judges speak the legal language, the language of international law. There is never a political debate in the court room.”

The expert also explained that the judgement preparation process is a tedious one with the judges and legal assistants who prepare and sanitize cases of all non-legal issues before the judgement is handed down.

Prior to arriving at a judgement, judges write their notes and undergo a punctilious drafting process. A part of the process includes presentations by judges to colleague magistrates on the legal issues of the case. The judges present in order of age, from youngest to oldest on the bench.

At the end of the process, the President will summarize the outcome of the deliberations. The first stage of drafting is presented to the judges and they submit written amendments to be made and for a redrafting to be conducted. Even after the judgement has been prepared, drafted, re-drafted and reviewed, countries can read the notes of the judges which is presented along with the judgements of a case.

The expert affirmed that when the court issues a judgement, it has been well prepared and is aligned with international law,  “A judgement of the ICJ is the most authoritative and carefully drafted judgement in international law.”

Ultimately, Belizeans have the choice to vote in a national referendum to be held on April 10, 2019 whether or not to take this claim to the ICJ for a final settlement.

The trip to The Hague, Netherlands was sponsored by the United States Embassy in Belize in support of the Government of Belize’s ICJ education campaign.

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