International Court of Justice

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Current Members


Vice-President Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf

(Member of the Court since 6 February 2009 ; Vice-President of the Court since 6 February 2015)

Born in Eyl, Somalia, 12 September 1948.

I. Education

Docteur ès sciences politiques (International Law), Graduate Institute of International Studies, University of Geneva (1980).

Laurea di Dottore in Giurisprudenza (Dr. Juris), Faculty of Law, Somali National University (1973).

Certificate, Centre for Studies and Research in International Law, Hague Academy of International Law (1974).

Post-Graduate studies in International Law and Relations, University of Florence, Italy (1976-1977).

II. Experience in intergovernmental institutions

Judge ad hoc at the International Court of Justice in the case concerning Certain Questions of Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters (Djibouti v. France).

- Legal Adviser and Director of the Office of International Standards and Legal Affairs (March 2001-January 2009).

- Assistant Director-General and Special Adviser on African Affairs (March 1998-February 2001). Acting Managing Director, Country Programmes and Funds Mobilization Division (August 1997-March 1998).

- Legal Adviser and Director of the Legal Service (August 1994-March 1998).

- Representative and Head, New York Office of UNCTAD (July 1992-July 1994). Senior Liaison Officer, United Nations Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries, New York (1992-1994).

- Head, Legal Policies Section, Trade & Technology Programme, Geneva (July 1988-June 1992). Legal Officer, Technology Division, Geneva (December 1981-June 1988).

UNTAG, Namibia:
-Liaison Officer in the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Adviser to the Commander of the United Nations peacekeeping forces (May-June 1989);

Deputy Regional Director and Electoral Supervisor (Ovambo, Namibia) (August-December 1989).

III. Experience in multilateral negotiations (as Government representative)

Somali representative to the Third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea (1975-1981). Somali delegate to the Afro-Asian Legal Consultative Committee (1975 and 1976). Member, Somali delegation to OAU Summit conferences (1974).

IV. Adviser to multilateral negotiations and organs (as international official)

Expert Adviser, UNCTAD negotiations on a Draft International Code of Conduct on the Transfer of Technology (1982-1985). Expert Adviser at the United Nations negotiations on a Convention on Biological Diversity (1990-1991). Expert Adviser and UNCTAD Representative at the GATT Uruguay Round Trade Negotiations on TRIPS (1989-1991). Legal Adviser to the Industrial Development Board and General Conference of UNIDO (1994-1998). Legal Adviser to the International Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (Trieste, Italy) (1994-1997). Legal Adviser to the Executive Board and General Conference of UNESCO (2001-2009). Legal Adviser to the UNESCO Intergovernmental Oceanographic Committee and to the World Heritage Committee (2001-2009). Legal Adviser to UNESCO negotiations on the following conventions: Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage, Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage, International Convention against Doping in Sport, Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expression (2001-2006).

V. Academic Teaching experience

Lecturer, International Law, Faculty of Law Somali National University (1974-1980) and Chairman, Public Law Department (1976-1978). Assistant Professor, Faculté de Droit, Université de Genève (1981-1983). Visiting lecturer on public international law and international economic law at the following universities and academic institutions: University of Siena, Italy, March and April 1984. Institut universitaire d’études du développement, Geneva (Switzerland), February and March 1984. University of Florence (Italy), March and April 1985. University of Milan-Bocconi (Italy), April 1990. International Development Law Institute, Rome (Italy), May 1990, May 1991, May 1992 and October 1995. University of Turin (Italy), June 1991 and June 1992. UNITAR Fellowship Programme in International Law, the Hague Academy of International Law (Netherlands), 1993, 1994, 1996 and 1999. Thessaloniki Institute of Public International Law and International Relations, 2004.

VI. Other academic and professional activities

Founder and General Editor, African Yearbook of International Law/Annuaire Africain de droit international. Member of the Academic Council of the Doctoral School of International Law, University of Paris 1 (Sorbonne), France. Member of the International Curatorium of the Thessaloniki Institute of Public International Law and International Relations, Greece. Member, Editorial Advisory Board, Asian Yearbook of International Law. Barrister, Supreme Court of Somalia, since 1974.

VII. Professional affiliation

Member, Institute of International Law (Institut de droit international), Geneva. Founding Member, African Association of International Law. Founding Member and Member Governing Board, African Foundation for International Law. Member, Commission on Environmental Law, IUCN (World Conservation Union). Member, Société française pour le droit international.

VIII. Publications

Author of a number of books and numerous articles dealing with various aspects of International Law, including the following: Books: Legal Aspects of Trade Preferences for Developing States: A study in the influence of development needs on the evolution of international law, The Hague, Nijhoff Publishers, 1982; Intellectual Property and International Trade: the TRIPS Agreement (ed. with C. Correa), Kluwer Law International, 1st edition, 1998, 2nd edition, 2007 (Wolters Kluwer-Law & Business); International Technology Transfer: The Origin and Aftermath of the Draft UN Code of Conduct (ed. with S.J. Patel and P. Roffe), Kluwer Law International, 2000; Standard-setting in UNESCO/L’action normative à l’UNESCO (ed.), Unesco Publishing and Nijhoff Publishers, 2007-English and French editions; The Legal and Institutional Framework of the African Union/Le cadre juridique et institutionnel de l’Union Africaine (ed.) (2009) - English and French editions; African Yearbook of International Law/Annuaire Africain de droit international (Founder and General Editor), Vols. I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, XI, XII, XIII and XIV (issued in 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006), Kluwer Law International and Nijhoff Publishers (London, The Hague, Boston) - English and French editions.

Articles and Special Papers: “The legal status of mercenaries in the law of armed conflict” in A. Cassese (ed.), The New Humanitarian Law of Armed Conflicts, 1979; “Towards a new legal framework for marine research: Coastal state consent and international co-ordination”, Virginia Journal of International Law, Vol. 19, No. 2, 1979; “Preferential treatment as a dimension of the right to development” in R.-J. Dupuy (ed.) The right to development at the international level, Hague Academy of International Law, 1980; “Differential and More Favourable Treatment of Developing Countries in International Trade: The GATT Enabling Clause”, Journal of World Trade Law, 1981; “L’élaboration d’un code international de conduite pour le transfert de technologie: bilan et perspectives”, Revue générale de droit international public (octobre-décembre 1984), No. 4; “The legal framework for stable, remunerative and equitable commodity prices in international trade” in D. Dicke and E.-U. Petersmann (eds.) Foreign Trade in the Present and a New International Economic Order, University Press, Fribourg, Switzerland, 1988; chapter on “Trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights” in Uruguay Round, Papers on Selected Issues, United Nations, New York 1989; chapter on “Transfer of technology” in M. Bedjaoui (ed.) International law: Achievements and Prospects, Unesco, Paris 1992; “Intellectual Property Protection and International Trade: The Exhaustion of Rights Revisited”, World Competition, Vol. 16, No. 1, September 1992 (in collaboration); “Technology and Genetic Resources in the Biodiversity Convention: Is Mutually Beneficial Access still possible?” in V. Sanchez and C. Juma, (eds.) Biodiplomacy: Genetic Resources and International Relations, 1994; “International law and Sustainable Development: the U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity”, African Yearbook of International Law, Vol. II, 1994; “Reflections on the Fragility of State Institutions in Africa, African Yearbook of International Law, Vol. II, 1994; “Intellectual Property Protection in the Countries of Africa”, International Journal of Technology Management, Vol. 10, 1995; “The Role of the Legal Adviser in the Reform and Restructuring of an International Organization - The Case of UNIDO”, Collection of Essays by Legal Advisers of States, Legal Advisers of International Organizations and Practitioners in the Field of International Law, United Nations, Office of Legal Affairs, 1999; “Developing Countries and the Multilateral Trade Rules: The Continuing Quest for an Equitable Playing Field”, in Laurence Boisson de Chazournes and Vera Gowlland-Debbas (eds.) The International Legal System in Quest of Equity and Universality, Liber Amicorum Georges Abi-Saab, 2001; “Government Collapse and State Continuity: The Case of Somalia”, Italian Yearbook of International Law, Vol. XIII, 2003; “The Right of Intervention by the African Union: A New Paradigm in Regional Enforcement Action”, African Yearbook of International Law, Vol. 11, 2003; “Le Conseiller juridique d’une organisation internationale face à la pratique”, Société française de droit international, La pratique et le droit international, colloque de Genève 2003, Paris, Pédone, 2004; “The UNESCO Declarations on Bioethics: emerging principles and standards of an international biolaw”, in N. Boschiero (ed.) Bioetica e Biotechnologie nel Diritto Internazionale e Communitario, 2006; “Cultural Rights As Collective Rights in International Law”, Lectures delivered in summer 2004 at the Thessaloniki Institute of Public International Law and International Relations, 2006; “UNESCO Standard-setting Activities on Bioethics: Speak Softly and Carry a Big Stick”, in F. Francioni (ed.) Biotechnologies and International Human Rights, Hart Publishing, 2007; “La coordination des actions dans le système des Nations Unies”, in R. Chemain et A. Pellet (eds.) La Charte des Nations Unies, Constitution mondiale?, Editions Pedone, 2007; “La Nozione Di ‘Beni Culturali Sotto Protezione Rafforzata’ E Il Ruolo Dei Comitati Dell’UNESCO Per La Protezione Del Patrimonio Culturale” in La Tutela Internationale Dei Beni Culturali Nei Conflitti Armati, a cura di Paolo Benvenutti e Rosario Sapienza, Giuffrè Editore, 2007.