Global Advocates for Justice and Human Rights: the ICJ – 60 years in Geneva!

2018 marks the 60th anniversary of the ICJ’s move to Geneva thanks to the great Swiss jurist Jean-Flavien Lalive, who was ICJ’s Secretary General in 1958.

This makes the ICJ one of the earliest international organizations to establish its headquarters in Geneva.

At the 1959 ICJ Congress in New Delhi, Dr. Lalive helped breathe new life into the rule of law and human rights.

The Delhi Declaration is, to date, a fundamental instrument interpreting the rule of law as a living concept, and underscoring the primary role of lawyers in its safeguard and in the advancement of human rights.

The ICJ plays a unique and preeminent role as a non-governmental organization seeking to defend human rights and the rule of law worldwide.

The ICJ will mark this event with two major initiatives:

  • A visibility campaign from 26th September to 9th October: the TV screens on the Geneva public transport network and five vehicles will carry the slogan “Global Advocates for Justice and Human Rights – 60 years in Geneva”
  • The launch of the “60th Anniversary Appeal” to all lawyers in the Republic and canton of Geneva to support the ICJ and, in turn, their less privileged colleagues, victims of persecution on five continents.

“Geneva can be proud of its image as the world human rights capital. It is a beacon for justice advocates around the world. We must continue to make it shine,” said Sam Zarifi, Secretary General of the ICJ.

“Through its 60-year history, the ICJ has contributed significantly to Geneva’s human rights record: the campaigns that led to the creation of the post of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in 1993 and the UN Human Rights Council in 2006, as well as the adoption of the United Nations Convention against Torture in 1984 are some emblematic examples,” said Olivier Coutau, Head of La Genève Internationale.

“In the face of repeated attacks on human rights, the world needs, more than ever the ICJ’s competent, rigorous and effective defense of the rule of law,” Sam Zarifi added.

The Republic and canton of Geneva support the ICJ 60th Anniversary Appeal.

Additional information

The international reputation of the ICJ rests on these pillars:

  • 60 Commissioners – eminent judges and lawyers – from all regions of the world and all legal systems – with unparalleled knowledge of the law and human rights;
  • Cooperating with governments committed to improving their human rights performance;
  • Effective balance of diplomacy, constructive criticism, capacity building, and if necessary, ‘naming and shaming’;
  • Unmatched direct access to national judiciaries, implementing international standards and improved legislation impacting millions;
  • Guiding, training and protecting judges and lawyers worldwide to uphold and implement international standards;
  • Working for access to justice for victims, survivors and human rights defenders, in particular from marginalized communities;
  • Following a strict result based management in project delivery.

In recognition of this effective approach, the ICJ has been awarded, during its long history, some of the most prestigious international awards: the Council of Europe Human Rights Prize, the United Nations Award for Human Rights, Erasmus Prize, Carnegie Foundation Wateler Peace Prize.

In 2018, the ICJ provided local trainings on five continents to assist 4,300 judges, lawyers and prosecutors strengthen their ability to protect and promote fundamental rights.

The ICJ has consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council, UNESCO, the Council of Europe and the African Union.

Contact :

Michaël W. Sombart, Director Philanthropy & Strategic Partnerships, t: +41 22 979 38 31 ;  m: +41 77 965 98 45 ; e: michael.sombart(a)

NewsPress releases