Friendship

Address at the Japanese Reception, 28 October 2016,

[Ambassador Bessho, Permanent representative of Japan to the United Nations, kindly gave a reception for me on 28 October 2016 for the promotion of my re-election to the International Law Commission. I did not want my address to sound like a election campaign speech. So, I chose to speak on “friendship”.]

Thank you Ambassador Bessho for your kind introduction. I only hope that I can live up to your expectations, and I will certainly try my very best.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to thank all of you for coming to this reception tonight. I am deeply grateful for your presence. Your support of my candidacy to the ILC is much appreciated. I equally value your support of the ILC topic on the Protection of the Atmosphere, for which I have had the honor of serving as Special Rapporteur. We have been discussing this topic at the Sixth Committee for the past two days, which will continue to Tuesday next week, and I am happy to note that the topic is moving forward.

I am glad that I have chosen international law as my profession. Thanks to this profession, I have got so many good friends over the years. My first encounter with the ILC was in 1975 when I was a participant in the International Law Seminar, organized by the ILC, where I met a number of brilliant young experts and students of international law. Judges Cancade Trindade and Abdi Yusuf have been my friends ever since that time, and I still see them from time to time in the context of the Hague Academy of International Law and the Institute of International Law. A few years later, I started working for the UN Legal Office, Codification Division, servicing the ILC and the Sixth Committee. Mr. Valencia-Ospina was a senior legal officer who trained me when I joined the Codification Division. He is now my colleague at ILC. Through these experiences, I have got so many good friends, who are truly my life-long friends.

Friendship is the core of our profession as international lawyers. I have been a member of the Curatorium of the Hague Academy of International Law for the past 12 years, and I have worked closely with my very good friend, Professor Momtaz of Iran, trying to get as many Asian and African professors to give courses at the Academy’s summer program.

Ambassador Chusei Yamada, my predecessor in the Commission, once told me that he was acting as an “election officer” for Mr. Momtaz, distributing his flyers and encouraging delegates to vote for him. I asked Ambassador Yamada: “Wasn’t it a bit risky for your own election?” The Ambassador said, “Well, he is a good candidate, and we need him in the Commission.” I think this was his expression of friendship. I am sorry that Ambassador Yamada is no longer with us. He passed away three years ago.

Another friend of mine, who was also a good friend of Ambassador Yamada, is Professor Dr. Mohamad of Malaysia, former Secretary General of AALCO. Dr. Mohamad successfully revitalized AALCO during his tenure. He visited ILC every year and made strong statements to support the topic on the Protection of the Atmosphere on behalf of the 47 Member States of AALCO. Every time he came to the Commission, I was so encouraged by Dr. Mohamad in pursuing the topic.

I am sure that we remain as friends for a long time. I value friendship more than anything else. Friendship is the basis of our profession.

So, let us make tonight’s gathering as an occasion to meet old friends, and also to make new friends, an occasion to ascertain our friendship.

Thank you once again for your presence this evening.

[Ambassador Bessho proposed to the gathering: “Let us toast to “Friendship”!]

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