Webinar: Starting an ICJ case in a winning way

On 11 January 2024, Volterra Fietta hosted a virtual seminar on “Starting an ICJ case in a winning way.”

The United Nation’s principal judicial organ, the International Court of Justice (the “ICJ”), is busier than ever.  There are currently over 20 proceedings (both contentious and advisory) before the ICJ.  Without careful preparation, initiating a case before the ICJ does not guarantee success.  In reality, such preparation starts early.  It involves building the case, both with legal arguments and evidentiary material; taking steps to comply with jurisdictional hurdles; and deciding on the mode of bringing the dispute to the ICJ.  States are therefore increasingly choosing to be represented by private law firms experienced in complex dispute settlement before international courts.

This seminar addressed the factual and legal issues involved in initiating a case before the ICJ in a winning way.  Our distinguished panel of speakers have a proven track record of successfully representing States before the ICJ.  They have shared insights into the essential do’s and don’ts of initiating a case before the ICJ.  They have also provided practical tips on effective case management, legal strategies, successful navigation of complex disputes and, most importantly, building a robust case.

Our distinguished panel of speakers were:

Professor Yukiko Takashiba, Professor of international law at Seinan Gakuin University. Professor Takashiba has experience working at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia’s Office of the Prosecutor, Legal Advisory Section, as well as at the ICJ’s Department of Legal Matters including as Legal Officer/Special Assistant to the President of the ICJ.  She also worked as in-house Counsel at the International Law Bureau, the International Legal Affairs Division, of the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  In particular, she acted as Counsel and Advocate for Japan before the ICJ in the case concerning Whaling in the Antarctic (Australia v Japan; New Zealand intervening).

Mr Khawar Qureshi KC, Head of McNair International.  Mr Qureshi is a Barrister specialised in public international law, international arbitration and commercial litigation.  He has represented States at the ICJ on numerous occasions.  He has taught Commercial law at Cambridge University, Public International law at Kings College London and was appointed a Visiting professor in Commercial Law at the University of London in 2006.  As a UK Government “A” Panel Treasury Counsel he advised and represented the UK authorities on hundreds of often highly sensitive matters for six years before taking Silk in 2006.  He is regularly described in legal directories as one of the UK’s leading Silks who is “a very powerful advocate who works incredibly hard and gets on top of both the legal issues and the facts”.  He was appointed a Deputy High Court Judge in 2013, and has written extensively on Commercial and International Law matters, including books published by Wildy, Hill & Sons on “Public International Law before the English Courts” and “Advisory Opinions of the International Court of Justice”.

Mr Ahmed Abdel-Hakam, Partner at Volterra Fietta.  Mr Abdel-Hakam has represented States before the ICJ (including in the current advisory proceedings on climate change), as well as clients in investment and commercial arbitration proceedings under the rules of all the major arbitral institutions.  A significant part of his work is focused on Africa and the Middle East, in cases which raise complex questions of international law such as exploitation of natural resources in disputed territories, the status of private and public property following state secession and the impact of civil unrest/war over the operation of energy and construction projects.  He is regularly listed in the leading legal directories which described him as “a future star – very impressive knowledge of public international law.”

Professor Robert Volterra, Partner at Volterra Fietta.  Professor Volterra advises and represents States around the world on a wide range of public international law and international dispute resolution issues.  He has been appointed by client States as Co-Agent and Co-Representative in cases before the major international courts, including the ICJ and the Permanent Court of Arbitration.  He has acted as counsel and advocate before the ICJ in over a dozen cases. In the past several years this has included being counsel and advocate for Kenya in its successful maritime boundary case against Somalia at the ICJ and being counsel and advocate for the Democratic Republic of Congo in its successful war reparations case against Uganda.  He is currently Co-Representative, counsel and advocate for Barbados in the ICJ Advisory Opinion proceedings on climate change.  He is on the UK Attorney General’s A-list for public international law practitioners (the first and only non-UK national and non-British barrister on the list).  Professor Volterra is described in Chambers and Partners as “probably the best PIL lawyer on this planet” and by Legal 500 as “the best public international lawyer around.”

Ms Magdalena Kowalczuk Asher moderated this event.  Ms Kowalczuk Asher, Associate at Volterra Fietta, advises and represents States, international organisations and private parties on a wide range of public international law and international dispute resolution issues.  With Professor Volterra and Mr Abdel-Hakam, she is representing a State in advisory proceedings on climate change before the ICJ.

For any queries regarding the content of the seminar, please email