International Commission of Jurists

International Commission of Jurists

International Commission of Jurists
Abbreviation ICJ
Formation 1952
Type NGO with Consultative Status
Headquarters Geneva, Switzerland
Official language
English, French, Spanish
Sir Nigel Rodley (2012 - Present)
Wilder Tayler (2010 - Present)

The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) is an international non-governmental organization.

The Commission itself is a standing group of 60 eminent jurists (including senior judges, attorneys and academics) dedicated to ensuring respect for international human rights standards through the law. Commissioners are known for their experience, knowledge and fundamental commitment to human rights. The composition of the Commission aims to reflect the geographical diversity of the world and its many legal systems.

The current ICJ President is Professor Sir Nigel Rodley, a member of the UN Human Rights Committee. Former Presidents include Professor Pedro Nikken (2011-2012) and Mary Robinson (2008-2011), the former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and President of Ireland.

The Commission is supported by an International Secretariat based in Geneva, Switzerland, and staffed by lawyers drawn from a wide range of jurisdictions and legal traditions. The Secretariat and the Commission undertake advocacy and policy work aimed at strengthening the role of lawyers and judges in protecting and promoting human rights and the rule of law.

In addition, the ICJ has national sections and affiliates in over 70 countries. Given the legal focus of the ICJ's work, membership of these sections is predominantly drawn from the legal profession.

In April 2013, the ICJ was presented with the

  • Official site

External links

  • William Korey (2001). NGOs and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: a Curious Grapevine. Palgrave Macmillan.  
  • Howard Tolley (1994). The International Commission of Jurists: Global Advocates for Human Rights. University of Pennsylvania Press.  

Further reading

  1. ^ "ICT Light of Truth Award ceremony brings together eminent individuals with historic connection to Tibet".  
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b Richard Pierre Claude (August 1, 1994). "The International Commission of Jurists: Global Advocates for Human Rights. (Book review)".  
  5. ^ a b Yves Dezalay, Bryant G. Garth (2002). The Internationalization of Palace Wars: Lawyers, Economists, and the Contest to Transform Latin American States. University of Chicago Press.  
  6. ^ Philip Agee, Inside the Company: CIA Diary, Allen Lane, 1975, p 611.
  7. ^  
  8. ^ Iain Guest, Behind the disappearances: Argentina's dirty war against human rights and the United Nations, University of Pennsylvania Press, 1990, ISBN 0-8122-1313-0, ISBN 978-0-8122-1313-3 p 111.
  9. ^ International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), NGO Monitor
  10. ^ "ICJ National Sections". International Commission of Jurists. Retrieved 4 August 2015. 
  11. ^ Wikisource:Declaration of Delhi
  12. ^
  13. ^


See also

1952 – Berlin, Germany – The International Congress of Jurists

1955 – Athens, Greece – The Rule of Law

1959 – New Delhi, India – The Rule of Law in a Free Society

1962 – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – Executive Action and the Rule of Law

1966 – Geneva, Switzerland – The ICJ’s Mandate, Policies and Activities

1971 – Aspen, USA – Justice and the Individual: The Rule of Law under Current Pressures

1977 – Vienna, Austria – Human Rights in an Undemocratic World

1981 – The Hague, Netherlands – Development and the Rule of Law

1985 – Nairobi, Kenya – Human and Peoples’ Rights in Africa

1989 – Caracas, Venezuela – The Independence of Judges and Lawyers

1992 – Cartigny, Switzerland

1995 – Bangalore, India – Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the Role of Lawyers

1998 – Cape Town, South Africa

2001 – Geneva, Switzerland

2004 – Berlin, Germany – Upholding Human Rights and the Rule of Law in Combating Terrorism

2008 – Geneva, Switzerland – Upholding the Rule of Law and the Role of Judges & Lawyers in times of crisis

2012 – Geneva, Switzerland – Access to Justice and Right to a Remedy in International Human Rights Systems

The ICJ's most recent Declaration, agreed at the ICJ's 17th World Congress in December 2012, related to Access to Justice and Right to a Remedy in International Human Rights Systems.[12] The full list of ICJ Congresses is as follows:[13]

Every few years, the ICJ convenes a World Congress, where jurists from around the world work together to address a pressing human rights issue and agree normative principles and objectives in a public Declaration. These Declarations have frequently been used by inter-governmental bodies, including the United Nations, as well as bar associations, lawyers, academic centres and other human rights NGOs around the world. For example, the ICJ was responsible for the Declaration of Delhi on the rule of law in 1959, which set out the ICJ's conception of the Rule of Law as being dynamic.[11]

Congresses of the ICJ

As at 2015 there are 21 autonomous[9] National Sections of the ICJ.[10] They are:

National Sections

The ICJ also initiated the drafting of the set of Principles for the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights through Action to Combat Impunity and the Basic Principles and Guidelines on the Right to a Remedy and Reparation for Victims of Violations of International Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, both under examination at the UN Human Rights Commission and also received the United Nations Prize in the Field of Human Rights in 1993.

In the 1990s, a number of important international developments took place as a result of initiatives by the ICJ. These included the UN Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance and the recommendation by the Programme of Action of the Yogyakarta for LGBT rights and published The Yogyakarta Principles in March 2007.

In 1986, the ICJ gathered a group of distinguished experts in international law to consider the nature and scope of the obligations of States parties to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The meeting witnessed the birth of the Limburg Principles on the Implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which continue to guide international law in the area of economic, social and cultural rights.

In 1980, the ICJ received the European Human Rights Prize by Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

In 1978, the ICJ established the Centre for the Independence of Judges and Lawyers (CIJL). It was instrumental in the formulation and adoption of the UN Basic Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary and the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers and its mandate is to work for their implementation.

From 1970 to 1990, Niall MacDermot was Secretary-General, succeeding Sean MacBride.[7] MacDermot moved the ICJ away from its association with the CIA, to the forefront of the international human rights movement.[8]

The ICJ was initially partially funded by the Sean MacBride, and through Ford Foundation funding.[4][5]

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, on 8 July 1952, 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.

During the Congress, delegates decided to make provisions to expand the work of the ICJF to investigate human rights violations in other regions of the world. A five-member ‘Standing Committee of the Congress’ was appointed for this purpose and, in 1953, the Standing Committee created the “International Commission of Jurists (ICJ)” as a permanent organisation dedicated to the defence of human rights through the rule of law.

Born at the ideological frontline of a divided post-war Berlin, 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.


The ICJ also operates regional programmes of work in Africa, Asia Pacific, Central America, Europe, and the Middle East and North Africa.[3] These focus on promoting and supporting the independence of the judiciary, the Rule of Law and human rights issues specific to their regional contexts. To support this work, the ICJ has regional offices in Thailand, South Africa, and Guatemala, and country office in Nepal and North Africa.

The ICJ's International Law and Protection Programme works to promote the application of international law to violations of a civil, political, social or economic nature.[2] The focus is on the international obligations of states to respect, protect, and fulfill human rights through the Rule of Law, to protect victims of human rights violations, and to hold states and non-state actors accountable for these violations and abuses. Today, the specific areas of work include:

The ICJ is active in promoting human rights and the rule of law, whether at the international level (e.g. the UN), regionally (e.g. the EU and Council of Europe), or domestically through the activities of its national sections (e.g. JUSTICE in the UK).

Current activities


  • Current activities 1
  • History 2
  • National Sections 3
  • Congresses of the ICJ 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • Further reading 7
  • External links 8