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In the process of selection of articles for the International Court of Justice section at the Editorial Board of the Leiden Journal of International Law (LJIL), we tend to be seduced by those manuscripts which are effective in making use of the jurisprudence of the Court as an instrument to engage in an in-depth examination of substantive legal issues of a general nature. This reflects our conviction – hardly an original one, since it appears to be shared by our entire legal community – that the Court has a fundamental role to play in the advancement of international law as a legal system. It also echoes an idea that is present in the mission statement of our journal, which is conceived as ‘a forum for two vital areas, namely international legal theory and international dispute settlement’, thus establishing an intrinsic link between them. But how is the Court's contribution to the development of international law to be assessed? And what do we expect from a scholarly piece examining its case law in this respect?
The case concerning Military and Paramilitary Activities in and against Nicaragua, better known as the ‘Nicaragua case’ or simply Nicaragua, is arguably one of the most important and controversial cases ever to be heard by the International Court of Justice. Twenty-five years after the judgment on the merits was handed down, it is high time to reassess the impact of Nicaragua on international law. The joint efforts of the Grotius Centre of the Leiden Law School, the Centre on International Courts and Tribunals at University College London, the Netherlands Society of International Law, and the law firm Foley Hoag LLP resulted in a one-day conference, on 27 June 2011, the very day on which the judgment on the merits of the Nicaragua case was handed down, 25 years ago.
The long awaited judgment of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in Application of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide was handed down on 26 February 2007. It has attracted the attention of the international legal community as well as political circles. In addition, the world media – not to mention the local media – have taken note of the judgment, with leading newspapers carrying the story on their front pages rather than buried deep within, as sadly tends to be the case with international legal issues.
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