International Court of Justice



Press Communiqué 93/20

  19 July 1993



Constitution of a Chamber of the Court

for Environmental Matters


The following information is communicated to the Press by the Registry of the International Court of Justice.


The Statute of the Court provides, in Article 36, paragraph 1, as follows:


"The jurisdiction of the Court comprises all cases which the parties refer to it and all matters specially provided for in the Charter of the United Nations or in treaties and conventions in force."


At present, out of eleven cases in its docket, the full Court is seised of two cases, namely those concerning Certain Phosphate Lands in Nauru (Nauru v. Australia) and the Gabcikovo-Nagymaros Project (Hungary/Slovakia) with important implications for international law on matters relating to the environment.


The Statute of the Court also provides, in Article 26, paragraph 1, as follows:


"The Court may from time to time form one or more chambers, composed of three or more judges as the Court may determine, for dealing with particular categories of cases; for example, labour cases and cases relating to transit and communications."


In the past the Court has considered the question of the possible formation of a chamber to deal with environmental matters. On those occasions it took the view that it was not yet necessary to set up a standing special chamber, emphasizing that it was able to respond rapidly to requests for the constitution of a so-called "ad hoc" Chamber (pursuant to Article 26, paragraph 2 of the Statute) which could deal also with any environmental case.


In view of the developments in the field of environmental law and protection which have taken place in the last few years, and considering that it should be prepared to the fullest possible extent to deal with any environmental case falling within its jurisdiction, the Court has now deemed it appropriate to establish a seven-member Chamber for Environmental Matters composed as follows: Judges Schwebel, Bedjaoui, Evensen, Shahabuddeen, Weeramantry, Ranjeva and Herczegh.


The Members of the Chamber, who have been elected by secret ballot, will serve for an initial period of six months and will enter upon their duties on 6 August 1993.


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