Founded in Berlin in 1952 and currently based in Geneva, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) states that it is “dedicated to the primacy, coherence, and implementation of international law and principles that advance human rights.” The organization has a membership of sixty jurists representing many different legal systems, and strives to promote “the development, promotion and clarification of international [human rights] standards.” Major ICJ funders include the governments of Austria, Finland, Cyprus, Britain, and Sweden; the French Prime Minister’s office; the Greek Minister of Justice’s office; and the Tapei Bar.
ICJ works in a number of program areas:
The Global Security & Rule of Law Program seeks “to persuade governments that counter-terrorism measures must respect the rule of law and human rights and humanitarian law.” This directive is aimed particularly at Israel, characterizing that nation’s efforts to thwart Palestinian suicide bombings and other attacks on Israeli citizens as violations of human rights. ICJ has developed ongoing working relationships with Al-Haq, LAW, and the Palestine Center for Human Rights — three NGOs with pronounced anti-Israel biases.
The Judges & Lawyers Program “works for justice systems in countries around the world to be independent in law and practice, impartial and active in protecting human rights and freedoms and promoting the rule of law.”
The International Economic Relations Program “addresses the legal accountability of increasingly powerful non-state economic actors when their conduct negatively affects human rights.”
In addition to the aforementioned thematic program areas, ICJ divides its activities into five regional programs:
Middle East & North Africa: “The ICJ will … continue to monitor rule of law developments throughout the region and intervene accordingly, with a special focus on Israel and the Palestinian Occupied Territories.”
Latin America: “In Latin America the independence and effectiveness of the judiciary, as well as impunity, are key issues for the ICJ, with particular priority in 2006 given to Colombia, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Venezuela. Counter-terrorism is a significant issue of concern in Colombia.”
Asia-Pacific: “Impunity and the role of courts in protecting civilians during a conflict … continue to be significant themes for the ICJ in the region,” especially in Nepal and Thailand.
Africa: “The independence and accountability of judges and lawyers is a dominant theme in the ICJ’s Africa Progra[m]. Counter-terrorism is primarily an issue in East Africa. Kenya and Zimbabwe have been identified as priority countries …”