Searching for the international court

by Flemming Hedén, Senior Engagement Manager at GES

As an engagement manager, most of my time is spent meeting with company representatives. By just meeting with people in the head office, we run the risk of getting a distorted view. Therefore, we travel extensively to where the action is, together with companies and with stakeholders to make sure that investor expectations are met. This is helpful when we try to understand often very complex environments and where second hand sources convey only selected parts of the story. Visiting the Peace Palace in The Hague, as I recently did in connection to a client meeting, is an excellent example of the value of on-site visits. It helped me deconstruct what “the international court” actually is, described here in a very simplified form.

Searching for the international court
The Peace Palace

The Peace Palace houses two international courts. Firstly, there is the Permanent Court of Arbitration, which was established in 1899, where typically two states agree to resolve things, such as border disputes. Secondly, there is the International Court of Justice, established in 1945, where the UN system typically rules on legal disputes and provides advisory opinions on legal questions. Our work on Western Sahara and the Occupied Palestinian Territories depends on output from this court.

Also, in The Hague, but in another part of the city, is the International Criminal Court, established in 2002, where individuals are tried when national courts are unwilling or unable to prosecute criminals. For example, recently there was the first conviction surrounding the destruction of cultural world heritage when ancient texts in Timbuktu were intentionally destroyed. Since then, the ICC has stated its intention to prosecute serious crimes against the environment.

The International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes, established in 1965, is based in Washington D.C., sits with the World Bank Group as its parent organisation. There corporations can take complaints against states that the corporations argue have violated international trade agreements. Chevron’s dispute with Ecuador was ruled on here while Ecuadorian community members still seek compensation from Chevron in national courts. This is something that we have engaged with Chevron on for many years.

There is no doubt much more to say about international law and implications for investors. We digest and integrate this growing body of law piece by piece. Meanwhile, I can highly recommend the Peace Palace’s visitor’s centre as well as a visit to the very pleasant surrounding city.

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