All Nordic countries support Dr Lehto's candidature to the International Law Commission (ILC). Dr Lehto is one of the few female candidates to this prestigious UN body.
The United Nations International Law Commission (ILC) is to renew its composition in elections to take place in November 2016 in the General Assembly of the UN. The ILC is a subsidiary organ of the General Assembly and its mission is the codification and progressive development of international law. All Member States of the United Nations are invited to present candidates.
Dr Marja Lehto, Ambassador at the Legal Service of the Foreign Ministry is the candidate of Finland and the other Nordic countries to the ILC for the period 2017–2021. Dr Lehto has a perfect profile for a member of the ILC, that is, a widely recognised competence and an excellent academic record in international law.
The ILC was established in 1947 by the General Assembly of the United Nations. The ILC has since then made a major contribution to the strengthening of the rule of law at the international level. For instance, the Vienna conventions on diplomatic and consular relations as well as the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties were adopted on the basis of the ILC's drafts. The Commission has worked extensively in the field of international criminal law, the elaboration of the draft Statute for an International Criminal Court in 1994, and the draft Code of Crimes against the Peace and Security of Mankind in 1996.
The Statute of the ILC provides that the members of the Commission “shall be persons of recognized competence in international law”. Members represent various segments of the international legal community, such as academia, the diplomatic corps, government ministries and international organizations. The members of the ILC serve in their individual capacity and not as representatives of their governments.
Ever since the establishment of the United Nations the Nordic countries have played a significant part in the development of international law, including through the participation in the work of the ILC.
Traditionally, there has been a Nordic member in the Commission. The Nordics are known to be pragmatic and constructive interlocutors, not afraid of working hard or meeting challenges. Professor Marie Jacobsson of Sweden currently serves her second five-year term in the Commission. Two Finns have been members of the ILC, Erik Castrén during the years 1962–71 and Martti Koskenniemi between 2002–06.
The Nordic countries are convinced about the importance of maintaining the Nordic perspective in the ILC and all of them support Dr Lehto's candidature.
Rule of law and human rights are an important part of the Nordic legal tradition, as is gender equality. Dr Lehto is one of the few female candidates who have so far been presented as candidates in the elections to the ILC for the period of 2017–2021. At present, the Commission of 34 has only two female members. The first female members were elected to the Commission in 2002.
Dr Lehto has an extensive practical experience of different areas of international law ranging from general international law and the law of the sea to international criminal justice and international humanitarian law.
She has led intergovernmental negotiations at the UN and at the European level and held various positions of trust. Dr Lehto has recently served as Finland's Ambassador to Luxembourg (2009–2014). Alongside her work at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Dr Lehto has maintained a strong interest in academic work and published widely on different areas of international law.
"International legal relations have become increasingly complicated. This underlines the need for the kind of high-quality legal expertise and considered legal work that the ILC can provide", Dr Lehto states and adds that "the ILC provides in this respect an additional resource for states – all states”.