Governor, Shri E S L Narasimhan, Acting Chief Justice of High Court of Judicature at Hyderabad for the States of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, Justice Ramesh Ranganathan, Minister for Law, A. Indrakaran Reddy, Vice-Chancellor Prof. ( Dr. ) Faizan Mustafa, Dr. P.S. Rao, President of International Institute of Law, Distinguished jurists in international law, students and ladies and gentlemen, I am indeed extremely delighted to inaugurate the 78th Session of the prestigious International Institute of Law (Institut De Droit International) being held for the first time in India.
I am doubly happy that NALSAR University of Law, a premier institution from Hyderabad is hosting the weeklong event where important issues relating to the progress of international law will be debated and resolutions adopted.
The Institut De Droit International has come a long way since its founding in 1873 in the Ghent Town Hall in Belgium by 11 international lawyers. Within 31 years of its establishment, it was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1904 in recognition of its efforts to promote settlement of disputes among States through peaceful means. It was praised for promoting international arbitration and for persuading States to accept the rules of law in wartime.
This unique non-governmental organization of lawyers with its slogan of ‘Justitia et pace’—Justice and peace—is also credited with playing a key role for the adoption of provisions on arbitration at the Hague Congress in 1899 and from time to time its recommendations on various matters were considered by world bodies like the League of Nations and the United Nations.
Its views and voice received recognition and respect by countries across the globe on a wide range of issues from international private law to extradition matters.
The institute, I believe, confers membership to 132 highly distinguished jurists in international law from different countries. Apparently, the chosen ones are expected to be free from any governmental or political influence.
Given the independent nature of the Institute of International Law, the deliberations and resolutions carry a stamp of objectivity and will definitely help in promoting the cause of justice and peace in the world.
I am sure that holding of this important session in India will not only create greater awareness on the importance of international law but will also inspire young lawyers and students to specialize in this subject.
The concept of the rule of law has been practiced in India from times immemorial. The Sanskrit word Dharma broadly deals with righteousness, duty and law. It is derived from the root word denoting uphold, sustain, nourish and support.
In fact, the two great epics Ramayana and Mahabharatha epitomize how Dharma, embodied through righteousness and justice, forms the basis for triumph of good over evil and for protecting mankind.
“Dharmo Rakshati Rakshitah”, the Sanskrit sloka in Manu Smriti aptly sumps the basic Indian philosophy— the law will protect and defend those who protect and defend it. From the vedic periods and through the times of various kingdoms, some kind of a legal system has always been in place in the sub-continent—right from the days of Kautilya (around 2nd century B.C.) whose Arthashastra encapsulates the essential principles of governance and administration of law and justice, while the Britishers introduced rules of administration and justice in 1772 in Bengal.
India believes in the philosophy of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ meaning the ‘World is one family’ and has always respected international treaties and statutes.
India attaches huge importance to the implementation of international statutes and the rule of law and is a firm believer in promotion of peace and justice globally. It should be noted that India was among the countries which played a key role in the development of some of the important global conventions and also those formulated by the United Nations like the Law of Sea Convention. India has also made a significant contribution to the formation of the Asian-African Legal Consultative Organization to promote international law.
Needless to add, India is a signatory to many important international treaties/ protocols/ agreements. They include Convention on Biological Weapons, Convention on Chemical Weapons, Chicago Convention on International Aviation, Convention on Rights of Child, International Convention on Doping in Sport, Genocide Convention, The Statute of Hague Conference on Private International Law, Kyoto Protocol, Montreal Protocol, Nuclear Terrorism Convention and International Convention on Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination.
I would like to once again reiterate that as a major stakeholder in the promotion of global peace, India firmly believes in peaceful settlement of disputes through negotiations on the basis of international laws and the UN Charter.
At this juncture, I would like to briefly recollect the invaluable contribution made by some of the Indian and Asian international law scholars to sustain and develop a world order based on commonly shared values and interests.
History is witness to the existence of flourishing kingdoms and glorious civilizations in the sub-continent and Asia in the pre-colonial age. Extensive inter-State relations in trade and commerce existed between them. The conclusion of treaties and other aspects were well-recorded and studied by Asian and Indian scholars like the President of the International Court of Justice, Judge Nagendra Singh, whose seminal work “India and International Law” of 1969 is well-known.
Professor Alexandrowicz M.K. Nawaz and Nilakanta Sastry, also looked into the application of principles of international law in Asia and India prior to advent of colonialism.
The Latin phrase Pacta Sunt Servanda meaning “agreements must be kept” forms the basic premise or principle of international law or covenants and apparently indicates that non-fulfillment will be tantamount to breach or violation of the pact. In other words, it highlights the importance of settlement of disputes through peaceful means.
Indian scholars, who made noteworthy contributions to the practice and doctrine of international law, include Judge Benegal Rao, the first Indian Member of the UN International Law Commission (ILC) and later the first Indian judge of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and Judge Radha Binod Pal (famous for his Tokyo dissent and a Member of the ILC), and Judge P.S.Rao (ad hoc judge of the ICJ, Arbitrator, Chairman of the ILC, Legal Adviser of India and now the President of Institute since 2015).
The other well-known experts in this domain include Professors B.S. Murty, T.S. Rao, R.P. Anand, Upendra Baxi and Rahmatullah Khan. I would also like to recall the contribution of Dr. Krishna Rao, who played a prominent role in setting up a more structured legal advisory service for India on all international law matters. He was instrumental for the conclusion of the Indus Water Treaty of 1959, settling the Rann of Kutch boundary and in resolving many other critical issues that arose between India and its neighbours in the post-partition period.
As mentioned earlier, India also played an active role in the UN and in the codification and progressive development of international law during 60s. We owe a debt of gratitude to Dr. Krishna Rao and other leading international law stalwarts from Asia, Africa and the Latin America who forged a united front in promoting foundational principles of international law relating to colonialism and apartheid as crimes, prohibition of the use of force, the principle of permanent sovereignty of States over their natural resources, the principles governing the Friendly Relations between States and reservation of outer space exclusively for peaceful purposes, among others.
Dr.S.P.Jagota who succeeded Dr. Krishna Rao as India’s legal adviser on international law played a leading role along with other representatives from the third world in creating a new constitutional order for the use of ocean resources and for settling the outer limits of the various maritime zones. The emergence of the concept of the exclusive economic zone, the establishment of an International Seabed Authority and an International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea side by side of the International Court of Justice to manage the concept of common heritage of mankind are innovative legal regimes conceived for the benefit of mankind with special consideration to the interests of developing and least developed countries.
India in later years and particularly after the September 11, 2011 attacks put considerable effort in fighting international terrorism. Several Conventions resulted from the efforts exerted under the auspices of the United Nations. Mention may be made in this connection of the SAARC convention on the suppression of international terrorism as well as the Indian proposal to conclude a comprehensive convention on suppression of international terrorism now under consideration of the UN. India is keen to see the conclusion of this important convention in the near future without further delay in view of the growing incidents of international terrorism, which are threatening world peace.
India today is the one of the largest economies and has a young and educated work force. It represents a mature Parliamentary democracy with a highly independent judiciary and fourth estate.
India’s foreign policy is based on sovereign equality of States, non-intervention in the internal affairs of other States and peaceful settlement of disputes in accordance with principles articulated in Article 33 of the United Nations. India attaches high importance to bilateral negotiations in settling its differences and disputes with other nations on the basis of international law, justice and equity. It subscribes to the compulsory jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice and values settlement of disputes by arbitration as appropriate. It appeared before the ICJ six times, twice as an applicant and as a party to arbitrations on other occasions.
India values the contribution the Institute De Droit International has made and is making. I understand that some of the important issues on the agenda of the Hyderabad session relate to judicial review of the decisions of the UN Security Council, the legal issues concerning international migration, provisional measures in connection with private international law and international investment disputes. We look forward to your resolutions as an important contribution to lasting world peace.
I wish all the success in your endeavors and a pleasant stay in this beautiful city of Hyderabad.