|III.||The International Court of Justice|
|5.||ADVISORY OPINIONS OF THE INTERNATIONAL COURT OF JUSTICE|
Difference relating to Immunity
from Legal Process of a Special Rapporteur
of the Commission on Human Rights,
Advisory Opinion of 29 April 1999,
I.C.J. Reports 1999, p. 62
[pp. 76-77] 24. This is the first time that the Court has received a request for an advisory opinion that refers to Article VIII, Section 30, of the General Convention, which provides that
"all differences arising out of the interpretation or application of the present convention shall be referred to the International Court of Justice, unless in any case it is agreed by the parties to have recourse to another mode of settlement. If a difference arises between the United Nations on the one hand and a Member on the other hand, a request shall be made for an advisory opinion on any legal question involved in accordance with Article 96 of the Charter and Article 65 of the Statute of the Court. The opinion given by the Court shall be accepted as decisive by the parties."
25. This section provides for the exercise of the Court's advisory function in the event of a difference between the United Nations and one of its Members. In this case, such a difference exists, but that fact does not change the advisory nature of the Court's function, which is governed by the terms of the Charter and of the Statute. As the Court stated in its Advisory Opinion of 12 July 1973,
"[t]he existence, in the background, of a dispute the parties to which may be affected as a consequence of the Court's opinion, does not change the advisory nature of the Court's task, which is to answer the questions put to it ..." (Application for Review of Judgement No. 158 of the United Nations Administrative Tribunal, Advisory Opinion, I.C.J. Reports 1973, p. 171, para. 14).
Paragraph 2 of the Council's decision requesting the advisory opinion repeats expressis verbis the provision in Article VIII, Section 30, of the General Convention that the Court's opinion "shall be accepted as decisive by the parties". However, this equally cannot affect the nature of the function carried out by the Court when giving its advisory opinion. As the Court said in its Advisory Opinion of 23 October 1956, in a case involving similar language in Article XII of the Statute of the Administrative Tribunal of the International Labour Organisation, such "decisive" or "binding" effect
"goes beyond the scope attributed by the Charter and by the Statute of the Court to an Advisory Opinion ... It in no wise affects the way in which the Court functions; that continues to be determined by its Statute and its Rules. Nor does it affect the reasoning by which the Court forms its Opinion or the content of the Opinion itself." (Judgments of the Administrative Tribunal of the ILO upon Complaints Made against Unesco, Advisory Opinion, I.C.J. Reports 1956, p. 84.)
A distinction should thus be drawn between the advisory nature of the Court's task and the particular effects that parties to an existing dispute may wish to attribute, in their mutual relations, to an advisory opinion of the Court, which, "as such, ... has no binding force" (Interpretation of Peace Treaties with Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania, First Phase, Advisory Opinion, I.C.J. Reports 1950, p. 71). These particular effects, extraneous to the Charter and the Statute which regulate the functioning of the Court, are derived from separate agreements; in the present case Article VIII, Section 30, of the General Convention provides that "[t]he opinion given by the Court shall be accepted as decisive by the parties". That consequence has been expressly acknowledged by the United Nations and by Malaysia.
[p. 88] 65. According to Article VIII, Section 30, of the General Convention, the opinion given by the Court shall be accepted as decisive by the parties to the dispute. Malaysia has acknowledged its obligations under Section 30.
Since the Court holds that Mr. Cumaraswamy is an expert on mission who under Section 22 (b) is entitled to immunity from legal process, the Government of Malaysia is obligated to communicate this advisory opinion to the competent Malaysian Courts, in order that Malaysia's international obligations be given effect and Mr. Cumaraswamy's immunity be respected.