UN Court seeks funds

BRUSSELS, Jun 8, 2000 -- (Reuters) The International Court of Justice at The Hague (ICJ) is handling the heaviest caseload in its history with insufficient staff and funds, its president Gilbert Guillaume said on Wednesday.

The ICJ, the oldest world judicial body with the broadest reach and scope, has a budget of just $10 million a year compared to $100 million for the International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia (ICTY), which also sits in The Hague.

The ICJ is headed by a panel of 15 judges and has a total staff of 62 compared with about 1,000 at ICTY, Guillaume told a news conference in Brussels.

The court currently has 24 cases, from border disputes in Africa, Central America and Europe to an Indo-Pakistan air clash of 1999, the Lockerbie bombing, and Belgrade's charge of illegal use of force by NATO over Kosovo, he said.

"It's a little known creature, a discreet old lady," he added, but it had a successful record of settling international arguments and it needs a modest upgrade in budget.

"We are seeking more money and we shall have to ask for more positions," he said, adding that ICJ judges had no clerks and some shared secretaries. "I don't mind doing my own photo-copying, but I could be more productive," he added.

The ICJ would soon ask United Nations administrators for an increase in staff of nearly 50 percent, to around 90 people, to cope with its workload, Guillaume said. "It's important for us, but it's not enormous in budget terms."

The much larger ICTY, by contrast, was very well known with a high media profile, Guillaume said.

"They do need more money than us, that's obvious. For example, their investigators have to go in the field, and they need much more for translation," he said.

He declined to comment on Russian charges that the tribunal has become a politicized court and a tool of the West against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

The ICJ president said his court had no known political enemy in the United Nations General Assembly, and its funding problem was a result of historical circumstances: when the UN was flush with cash in the 1970s it had no cases, but now that the caseload had risen sharply, the UN faced a budget crisis.

He did not anticipate any serious difficulty in obtaining a bigger budget for 2002-3.

Original article