The International Court of Justice has all the accoutrements of a distinguished court, save one. It has a storied history — it was born as an integral part of the doomed League of Nations. It has a stunning home — the Peace Palace in The Hague. It has a growing docket — one case in 1981, 24 today. And, as an arm of the United Nations, it has an arduous appointment process — all 15 judges must clear the UN General Assembly. What doesn’t it have? Clerks.
That problem is about to become, well, history. Beginning next fall, the court will get its first pool of five clerks. They will all be fluent in English or French, and they will all be graduates of New York University School of Law, which is paying for the program. “The court is looking for ways of dealing with its caseload,” says its president, Stephen Schwebel, an American who used to teach international law at Johns Hopkins University. “Normally, this would be part of the court budget. But the United Nations is in poor financial shape because quite a number of member nations, notably the United States, are in arrears.” He adds that NYU’s offer to finance the five clerk-interns “will meet a serious and urgent need.”
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