On video: the ICJ invigorated by new leadership

On video: the ICJ invigorated by new leadership

Changes within the Commission enhance the organization’s capacity to respond to increased threats to rights protection via erosion of the rule of law, particularly in relation to the independence of the judiciary.

The ICJ is pleased to announce new leadership at the ICJ as Professor Robert K. Goldman (US) has been elected President of the organization and Justice Radmila Dragicevic-Dicic (Serbia) has been elected Vice-President, a role she will undertake jointly with Professor Carlos Ayala (Venezuela) who was also appointed Vice-President earlier in the year.

Professor Robert K. Goldman served as Acting President of the ICJ following the sad passing of former President Professor Sir Nigel Rodley in 2017.

The President and Vice-Presidents are supported by the Executive Committee, which has also been bolstered by new members Justice Sir Nicolas Bratza (UK), former President of the European Court of Human Rights; Dame Silvia Cartwright (New Zealand), former Governor-General of New Zealand; and Shawan Jabarin (Palestine), prominent human rights activist and Director General of Al-Haq, an independent Palestinian non-governmental human rights organization.

“I am honoured to have been elected President of the ICJ and to be able to work with such proficient and inspiring jurists amongst ICJ leadership and in the wider Commission itself, without whom the ICJ could not provide the expertise and leadership it does on such a wide range of human rights issues,” said Professor Robert K. Goldman, ICJ President.

“Those that have taken on a new role in ICJ leadership will help guide the organization in augmenting efforts to defend the rule of law amidst the current political backdrop of increasing antipathy and hostility towards rights protections,” he added.

In addition to these changes in the senior leadership of the ICJ, the organization is also pleased to welcome five new members:

Justice Chinara Aidarbekova (Kyrgyzstan), judge of the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court of Kyrgyzstan; Gamal Eid (Egypt), prominent lawyer and human rights defender; Jamesina Essie L. King (Sierra Leone), Commissioner of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights; Michael Sfard (Israel), prominent human rights lawyer who has represented many Israeli and Palestinian individuals and organizations; and Ambiga Sreenevasan, former President of the Malaysian Bar Council.

“The ICJ is alarmed by the increasing volume of worldwide attacks on the institutions that uphold human rights both at an international level, where UN mechanisms are constantly condemned rather than supported and enhanced to maximize their efficacy; and also on the local level, for example when we see the independence of the judiciary, an essential element of maintaining rights protections, coming under attack in places like Guatemala, Poland and South Korea,” said Saman Zia-Zarifi, ICJ Secretary-General.

“The ICJ relies on its global advocates of human rights to advance and defend the rights of others through the culmination of their vast and varied expertise and I am pleased to welcome our newest Commissioners to help in this regard, ” said Zia-Zarifi.

A further nine Commissioners were elected to serve additional terms on the Commission:

Professor Roberto Garreton (Chile), Professor Robert K. Goldman, Hina Jilani (Pakistan), Professor Jose Antonio Martin Pallin (Spain), Justice Sanji Monageng (Botswana), Tamara Morschakova (Russia), Dr Jarna Petman (Finland), Belisario dos Santos Jr (Brazil) and Justice Philippe Texier (France).

Hina jilani (Pakistan) and Belisario dos Santos Jr (Brazil) were both also re-elected to the Exectuive Committee and Professor Marco Sassoli (Italy/Switzerland) and Justice Stefan Trechsel (Switzerland) were re-elected as Alternates to the Executive Committee.

On video: Bob Goldman talks about the ICJ and the Rule of Law

The ICJ appoints Iranian-American lawyer Sam Zarifi as new Secretary General

The ICJ appoints Iranian-American lawyer Sam Zarifi as new Secretary General

Saman Zia-Zarifi is the new Secretary General of the ICJ. He replaces Wilder Tayler who retired in March, the Geneva-based organization announced today.

An Iranian-American lawyer, Zarifi joined the ICJ in 2012 as Regional Director for the Asia & Pacific Region based in Bangkok, Thailand. Prior to joining the ICJ, he served as Amnesty International’s director for Asia and the Pacific from 2008 to 2012, and before that worked at Human Rights Watch from 2000.

“Wilder Tayler masterfully guided the ICJ for the past 10 years and expanded its reach across the world in perilous times,” said Prof Robert Goldman, the ICJ’s Acting President.

“The Commission is fully confident that Sam Zarifi will build on this legacy by bringing to the ICJ as a whole the energy and vision he deployed so successfully in the Asia Pacific region.”

The ICJ, founded in Berlin in 1952, is one of world’s oldest human rights organizations.

Composed of 60 accomplished jurists from all regions of the world, the ICJ has for 65 years devoted itself to promoting the observance of the rule of law and the legal protection of human rights.

The ICJ Secretary General leads the implementation of the Commission’s objectives through the ICJ’s International Secretariat.

The International Secretariat operates in locations around the world including Guatemala, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Tunisia, Belgium, Switzerland, Lebanon, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Myanmar, and Thailand.

“There is an urgent need to stand up against the recent attacks on the concept of rule of law and the international human rights legal framework that the ICJ was instrumental in building,” said Zarifi.

“We will challenge human rights violations and work with lawyers, judges and human rights defenders around the world to bring perpetrators to account and ensure victims receive justice,” he added.

The ICJ currently works globally and in all regions to protect human rights, defend the rule of law and strengthen the independence and accountability of judges and lawyers.

“Around the world, authoritarian rulers and demagogues are cynically using fearmongering and discriminatory language to justify erosion of the rule of law and weaken an independent judiciary,” Zarifi said.

“An increasing number of powerful politicians around the world attack international law when it suits them as a means of gaining more authority and hurting the most vulnerable segments of society.”

“The international legal framework has failed to address some very serious human rights crises and it has allowed gross economic inequalities to develop, but the answer is to fix the system and improve it, not just destroy it and allow the most powerful to rule without any legal restrictions,” Zarifi added.

The ICJ has been instrumental in developing many of the key universal and regional human rights legal standards, ranging from treaties on torture and enforced disappearances, the right to remedy and reparation, and most recently, seeking accountability for abuses by business entities.
It has provided both conceptual depth and practical advance to questions such as the justiciability of economic, social and cultural rights; human rights in states of emergency and other crises; and the fight against impunity.

“The ICJ’s experience over the past six decades has clearly shown that countries that respect the rule of law and protect human rights benefit from greater security and more sustainable economic development,” Zarifi said.

“There is greater demand than ever for the ICJ’s factual, law-based analysis of human rights problems and most important, how to improve the situation.”

Sam Zarifi was born and raised in Tehran, Iran. He moved to the United States in 1983 and completed a BA from Cornell University in 1990 and a Juris Doctor from Cornell Law School in 1993, and after a stint as a corporate litigator in Los Angeles, an Ll.M. in Public International Law from New York University School of Law in 1997.

He was Senior Research Fellow at Erasmus University Rotterdam from 1997 to 2000, where he co-edited Liability of Multinational Corporations under International Law (Kluwer 2000) as well as several other publications on the subject.

Sam Zarifi, ICJ Secretary General, t: +41 22 979 3825, c: +41 79 726 44 15 ; e: sam.zarifi@icj.org

In memoriam: Dr. Jean-Flavien Lalive (1915-2012)

In memoriam: Dr. Jean-Flavien Lalive (1915-2012)

It is with great sadness that the International Commission of Jurists received the news of the passing of Dr. Jean-Flavien Lalive. He was one of the pillars of our organisation in its early days.

Dr. Lalive was involved in the work of the ICJ for over fifty years. As the Secretary-General from 1958 to 1961, Dr. Lalive played a vital role in establishing our organization in the international human rights community. He is especially noted for bringing the ICJ closer to the United Nations, both in terms of the organization’s political relationships and our physical location. Under his leadership, the ICJ gave more pronounced support for the international standards and enforcement procedures advocated by the UN. He was also responsible for moving the ICJ Secretariat’s headquarters from The Hague to Geneva, where it remains to this day.

While at the ICJ, Dr. Lalive continued to direct the organization’s efforts towards the search for universal procedural and substantive safeguards required for the proper administration of justice, while seeking to encompass the world’s different legal traditions. At the ICJ’s Congress in New Delhi in 1959, Dr. Lalive helped to define principles of the Rule of Law and Human Rights. The Declaration of Delhi, in particular, was to prove a seminal instrument in shaping the Rule of Law, with its conception of the Rule of Law as “a dynamic concept for the expansion and fulfillment of which jurists are primarily responsible and which should employed…to safeguard and advance [human] rights.”

Dr. Lalive later served as an Honorary Member of the ICJ, supporting the work of our organization at conferences and missions over many decades.

Dr. Lalive was an outstanding jurist and an exceptional advocate for human rights and the Rule of Law. He will be truly missed both by our organization and the wider human rights community.


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