The International Court of Justice: Croatia vs. Serbia

Returning for its second year, the ICJ will hear 1999 case, Croatia v. Serbia

By Tiffany Kim, Journalist

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On February 22nd at the University of Toronto, delegates from around the world will gather for day one of the North American Model United Nations (NAMUN). This collegiate-level conference will feature a total of sixteen committees, one of which will be the International Court of Justice. The ICJ is generally newer to the Model UN world in North America, and this reflects President Allen Wang’s personal objective to “establish the ICJ as a consistently repeating committee here, with participants buying into the idea of stimulating an international court in a realistic but approachable way”.

This year, the court will hear the case on Croatia v. Serbia and delve into the exploration of humanitarian law, and the troubled history of the Balkan War as well as the aftermath of the collapse of Yugoslavia. A team of two advocates will represent each of the states. Other important members of the court will include three officers as well as the judges that will hear the case, ask relevant questions, deliberate with one another, and finally come up with a verdict.

The court also hopes to debate an advisory opinion, which is a court’s nonbinding interpretation of law regarding a topic of international legal significance. More about this can be found in the background guide on the committee website, along with the impressive body of work that advocates have compiled under the guidance of Wang and Deputy-President, Jerry Qiu, in preparation for the conference.

Wang warns the delegates to take copious notes during the hearing as the procedure will undertake a very different style from a typical committee debate. He tells the Emissary that, “There are no caucuses, no speaker’s lists, none of the parliamentary procedure (s)” that one would expect to see in a usual debate. Instead, it is crucial to pay attention to the documents and issues raised by the advocates.

The ICJ expects to see participants from a variety of academic backgrounds, each with their own unique experiences with mock trials and legal traditions.

“I just hope they [delegates] gain a different perspective on dispute resolution in international relations and the real strengths and weaknesses of the ICJ as an international legal mechanism”, Wang tells us.

The conference will run for a duration of four days, beginning on the 22nd and coming to a close on the 25th of February. The Emissary is looking forward to the ICJ’s participation.