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Last Updated: Wednesday, 12 April 2006, 08:45 GMT 09:45 UK
World court marks 60th birthday
By Geraldine Coughlan
BBC News, The Hague

Srebrenica massacre grave
The court has judged cases involving genocide
The International Court of Justice in The Hague, the UN's highest legal body, marks its 60th anniversary Wednesday.

The world court has been a judicial forum for disputes between states since the end of World War II.

Court supporters say it is growing as a voice of impartial justice. Critics say it is powerless to impose its will.

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan will address the judges, Dutch royalty and diplomats at the ceremony marking the court's anniversary.

It comes as the International Court of Justice hears one of its most important cases.

Bosnia has charged Serbia with the genocide of Muslims during the Bosnian war, and is seeking compensation that could amount to billions of dollars.

But the court has no powers of enforcement. Countries such as Iran and the United States have ignored its rulings in the past.

The court's new president, UK judge Rosalyn Higgins, says the growing case load reflects a growing trust among developing nations - especially Asian countries, who see the court as a practical way of dealing with problems.

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