History of the ICJ

For six decades, the ICJ has played a leading role in the development and implementation of international human rights law and standards. Through pioneering activities, including inquiry commissions, trial observations, fact-finding missions, public denunciations and diplomatic advocacy, the ICJ has been a powerful advocate for justice.

In commemoration of Dr. Walter Linse

Dr Walter Linse

The ICJ was established following the 1952 ‘International Congress of Jurists’ in West Berlin. The Congress was organized by the ‘Investigating Committee of Free Jurists (ICJF)’, a group of German jurists committed to investigating human rights abuses carried out in the Soviet Zone of post-war Germany.

During the Congress, delegates decided to make provisions to expand the work of the ICJF. A five-member ‘Standing Committee of the Congress’ was appointed to carry out further investigations into human rights violations in other regions of the world. In 1953, the Standing Committee created the “International Commission of Jurists (ICJ)” that we know today.

One of the key areas of concern for the 106 Congress delegates was the case of Dr. Walter Linse, a West German lawyer and the Acting President of the ICJF. Two weeks prior to the start of the Congress, in an apparent attempt to intimidate participants, Dr. Linse was abducted by East German intelligence agents and delivered to the KGB. Despite international condemnation of the abduction, Dr. Linse was executed in Moscow for “espionage” in 1953.

For the full history of the ICJ:

Part One: 1952-1970Part Two: 1970-1990

Part Three: from the 1990’s into the 21st century