Source description last updated: 2 July 2020.

In brief: The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) is an NGO formed in 1952, based in Switzerland and defending human rights and rule of law.

Coverage on

Selected reports.

Covered quarterly on, for countries of priorities A-C.


“Composed of 60 eminent judges and lawyers from all regions of the world, the International Commission of Jurists promotes and protects human rights through the Rule of Law, by using its unique legal expertise to develop and strengthen national and international justice systems.” (ICJ website: Vision, mission and statutes, undated)

The statute of the ICJ states that “[t]he Commission carries out activities at the global, regional, national and local level and in particular takes effective steps to:

  1. Support and advance the Rule of Law and human rights on the basis of the principles set out in the preamble[of its statute];
  2. Advance the independence of the judiciary and the legal profession and the administration of justice in full compliance with standards of international law;
  3. Promote the global adoption and implementation of international human rights standards and other legal rules and principles that advance human rights and the Rule of Law;
  4. Promote the establishment and enforcement of a legal system which protects individuals and groups against violations of their human rights;
  5. Promote understanding of and compliance with the Rule of Law and human rights and provide assistance to those to whom the Rule of Law and human rights are denied; and
  6. Promote the abolition of the death penalty and support efforts to achieve this goal.” (ICJ: International Commission of Jurists Statute, p.1, June 2012)

“The ICJ was the first recipient of [the European Human Rights Prize]. It was awarded to the ICJ because of its “exceptional contribution to the cause of human rights in accordance with the principles of individual freedom, political liberty and the rule of law”. (ICJ website, European Human Rights Prize, undated)


“The assets of the Commission shall consist of such funds and resources as approved by the Executive Committee. In particular, the independence, principles and policies of the Commission may not be subject to influence by donors.” (ICJ: International Commission of Jurists Statute, p. 9, June 2012)

Income for 2018 amounted to 14.7 million Euros, stemming from various contributions to projects or the commission itself. (ICJ: Annual Report 2018, p. 47, September 2019)

Scope of reporting:

Geographic focus: Global.

Thematic focus: Human rights.


Reports can be based on visits carried out by an ICJ mission, as was the case in Ukraine, where “[ICJ] carried out a one-week mission to Ukraine from 4 to 8 March 2019 to assess the situation of security and independence of lawyers. The mission spent 5 days in Kyiv, during which it gathered information principally concerning the areas under the effective control of the Government of Ukraine.” (ICJ: Between the Rock and the Anvil: Lawyers under Attack in Ukraine, p. 5, April 2020)

The Special Jurisdiction on Peace in Colombia was analysed by “a high-level mission to […] Colombia from January 21 to 25, 2019, to analyze and evaluate the implementation of the Special Jurisdiction for Peace. This mission was made up of Commissioners Carlos Ayala (ICJ Vice-President, Venezuela), Wilder Tayler (Uruguay) and Philippe Texier (France) who spoke to a wide range of people. The mission’s initial findings have been expanded upon and complemented with an analysis of the  Special Jurisdiction’s main decisions. Additionally, it was reviewed and analyzed the actions undertaken by other authorities when these are relevant to the JEP’s implementation. (ICJ: Colombia: The Special Jurisdiction for Peace, Analysis One Year and a Half After its Entry into Operation, Executive Summary, p. 1, September 2019)

A report on the situation of lawyers in Azerbaijan is also comprised of information gathered on “a mission in June 2016 [and] analyses the situation of lawyers and the independence of the legal profession in Azerbaijan based on national legal framework and the information obtained from meetings with lawyers during the mission.” (ICJ: Defenceless Defenders: Systemic Problems in the Legal Profession of Azerbaijan, p. 5, 2016)

ICJ also submits statements to international bodies such as the UN Human Rights Committee, recommending legal reforms necessary for an improvement of the human rights situation and the situation regarding rule of law. Here is an analysis of Tunisian law submitted to the UN Human Rights Committee.

Language(s) of publications:

English, French, Spanish, Russian.

Further reading / links:

International Commission of Jurists Statute, June 2012

Annual Report 2018, September 2019

Tolley, Jr., Howard B.The International Commission of Jurists, Global Advocates for Human Rights. Philadelphia 1994


All links accessed 2 July 2020.