Recently, I met with Judge James Crawford SC, an eminent Australian jurist currently serving as a judge of the International Court of Justice (ICJ). Judge Crawford commenced his nine year term as one of the Court’s fifteen judges in February this year. He is only the second Australian to serve as a judge of the ICJ. The first was Sir Percy Spender who served on the Court from 1958 to 1967.
Judge Crawford is an international lawyer with a substantial record of service as counsel in matters before the ICJ and other international courts and tribunals. He is a graduate of the University of Adelaide and has held the positions of Professor of Law at the University of Adelaide, Dean of Law and Challis Professor of International Law at the University of Sydney and, for more than 20 years, Whewell Professor of International Law at the University of Cambridge. He was the first Australian member of the United Nations International Law Commission and in that capacity was responsible for the Commission’s work on the International Criminal Court and for the second reading of the Commission’s Articles on State Responsibility.
The ICJ (also known as the World Court) was established in 1945 and is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations. The Court is located in the Peace Palace in The Hague (see previous post) and plays an important role in settling legal disputes between States and providing advisory opinions on other emerging issues in international law. On 17 December 2013, Timor-Leste challenged the seizure and detention of certain documents and data by Australia in the ICJ. In accordance with an order of the Court, Australia returned the documents and data to Timor-Leste on 12 May 2015 and this week, Timor-Leste discontinued the case in the ICJ.
It was a privilege for me to meet with Judge Crawford to discuss his current role as a judge of the ICJ and his involvement (including as counsel for Australia) in many cases before this Court prior to his election as a judge.