18th ICJ World Congress opened in Tunis

Some 100 distinguished judges and lawyers from around the world commit to expanding the reach of human rights and rule of law principles, in the face of a global backlash against human rights values. The Tunis Congress is the ICJ’s 18th Global Congress since 1952.

The ICJ World Congress, consisting primarily of jurists serving as Commissioners, ICJ National Section and affiliates, and the ICJ Secretariat, is discussing strategy for concerted action and issue a final Declaration reflecting the outcome.

“Since its founding 1952 the ICJ has been steadfast in its belief in the primacy of human rights grounded in rule of law principles as indispensable for well being of all people, as well as for peaceful and just international order,” said Sam Zarifi, ICJ Secretary General.

“Cynical manipulation by authoritarian populists positions the rule of law and human rights as obstacles to the popular will. But as the ICJ’s experience over the past six decades has shown, the rule of law is inextricably bound with the proper functioning of democracy and to the protection and promotion of human rights,” he added.

The ICJ Congress will focus on five key areas of concern: the independence of judges and lawyers and administration of justice; access to justice and accountability for human rights violations; global security and counter-terrorism; equality and non-discrimination; and fundamental freedoms and civil society space.

“The international human rights legal framework has allowed for huge improvements in the lives of people around the world since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 70 years ago, and the ICJ has played an important role in the development of this legal framework,” Zarifi said.

“But we are now witnessing a resurgence of some of the dangerous, insidious ideas and practices that have led the world to carnage and chaos in the past: the scapegoating of groups such minorities, refugees and migrants; the undermining of multilateral institutions; and the silencing of civil society and those who are giving voice to those who are marginalized on the basis of their gender, religion, ethnicity, physical capacity or sexual orientation,” he added.

“Global powers such as the United States, Russia, and China are actively attacking the rule of law and respect for human rights around the world, while the European Union is distracted by the politics of xenophobia and fearmongering,” he further said.

“It is now crucial for other States, and for people around the world, to show that respect for the rule of law and human rights are universal values and global demands, and the ICJ is proud to pull together the community of jurists from all regions of the world to support these values and demands,” he added.

In the face of these threats and challenges, the Congress will consider means to defend and strengthen the rule of law and legal protection of human rights globally, regionally and in individual countries.

The ICJ is made up of around 60 distinguished judges and legal practitioners from all parts of the world and diverse, works on all five continents and addresses human rights protection in dozens of countries.


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