Of particular note, the ICJ assisted in the establishment of many human rights non-governmental organizations; launched rural development programmes that provided legal services to developing nations; conducted in-depth rule of law country examinations in Tibet and Pakistan; and consolidated the ICJ network in favor of judges and lawyers harassed or persecuted throughout the world.
In 1997, on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the Limburg Principles, the ICJ convened a meeting of more than thirty experts to explore the legal obligations around economic, social and cultural rights violations.. The resulting Maastricht Guidelines accomplished this task by expanding upon the nature, scope and appropriate remedies for violations of economic, social and cultural rights.
The International Criminal Court
In the 1990’s, a number of important international developments took place as a result of initiatives by the ICJ. Foremost among these was the establishment of the International Criminal Court in 1998 with the adoption of the Rome Statute. As the direct result of an international conference on impunity, organized by the ICJ under the auspices of the United Nations in 1992, the World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna positively addressed the question of an international criminal court. The ICJ played a leading role on the International NGO steering committee, whose advocacy was essential to the successful outcome achieved in Rome.
International Standard Setting
In recent years the ICJ played a critical role in the elaboration and adoption of a number of important international human rights instruments, including the International Convention for the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearance; the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture; the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; the third Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child; the UN Basic Principles and Guidelines on the Right to Remedy and Reparation for Gross Violations of International Human Rights Law and Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law; and the Update Set of principles for the protection and promotion of human rights through actions to combat impunity.
The ICJ has convened major international conferences and produced publications in rapidly developing areas of international law, including on economic social and cultural rights; on military tribunals under international law; protecting human rights in countering terrorism and corporations and human rights.
Human Rights Challenges in the 21st Century
At the ICJ’s 2004 International Congress, the organization adopted the Berlin Declaration on Upholding Human Rights and the Rule of Law in Combating Terrorism, which sets out 11 basic principles to ensure that counter-terrorism measure are human rights compliant.
Following on those commitments, in 2005, the ICJ convened the Eminent Persons Panel, comprising eight leading international experts who spent three years conducting a worldwide investigation into the impact of counter-terrorism laws and practice on human rights globally.
The panel held 16 hearings covering forty countries in all regions of the world. The report, which concluded that many States had confronted the threat of terrorism with ill-conceived measures undermining the Rule of Law and human rights, has proved to be an important reference for the post 9-11 age.
In 2006, the ICJ established an expert Legal Panel on Corporate Complicity in International Crimes, which developed legal and public policy analysis setting forth analysis over a two-year period and released a three-volume report to that end in 2008. In the same year, the World Congress of the ICJ adopted the Geneva Declaration on Upholding the Rule of Law and the Role of Judges and Lawyers in Times of Crisis, setting out the 13 core principles indicating key responsibilities for judges and the legal profession in order to ensure the protection of human rights and Rule of Law when countries pass through periods of crisis.
In 2011, following the success the of the Limburg Principles and Maastricht Guidelines in economic, social and cultural rights, the ICJ convened an expert process, culminating in a conference with the University of Maastricht which resulted in the adoption of the Maastricht Principles on Extra-Territorial Obligations of States in the Area of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. These International legal principles clarify the legal obligations of States beyond their own borders.
Today, the ICJ is one of the world’s oldest international human rights and Rule of Law-related NGO. It continues to provide in-depth legal expertise to back its efforts in the development, promotion and clarification of international standards. It continues to advocate with governments, the legal profession, and civil society in order to insure implementation of these standards at the international and national levels.
Since 2001, the ICJ has been led by Louise Doswald-Beck (2001-2003); Nicholas Howen (2004-2008) ; Wilder Tayler (2009-2017) ; and Sam Zarifi (since April 2017).