The Court appoints its Registrar from among candidates proposed by Members of the Court. He is elected for a term of seven years and may be re-elected.
The Registrar (Statute, Art. 21) is responsible for all departments and divisions of the Registry. Under Article 1 of the Instructions for the Registry, “[t]he staff are under his authority, and he alone is authorized to direct the work of the Registry, of which he is the Head”. In the discharge of his functions the Registrar reports to the Court. His role is threefold: judicial, diplomatic and administrative.
The Registrar’s judicial duties principally relate to the cases submitted to the Court. His tasks are as follows: (a) he keeps the General List of all cases and is responsible for recording documents in the case files; (b) he manages the proceedings in the cases; (c) he is present in person, or represented by the Deputy-Registrar, at meetings of the Court and of Chambers; he provides any assistance required and is responsible for the preparation of reports or minutes of such meetings; (d) he signs all judgments, advisory opinions and orders of the Court, as well as minutes; (e) he maintains relations with the parties to a case and has specific responsibility for the receipt and transmission of certain documents, most importantly applications and special agreements, as well as all written pleadings; (f) he is responsible for the translation, printing and publication of the Court’s judgments, advisory opinions and orders, the pleadings, written statements and minutes of the public sittings in every case, and of any other documents that the Court may direct to be published; and (g) he has custody of the seals and stamps of the Court, the archives of the Court, and any other archives entrusted to the Court (including the archives of the Permanent Court of International Justice and of the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal).
The Registrar’s diplomatic duties are as follows: (a) he attends to the Court’s external relations and acts as the channel of communication to and from the Court; (b) he manages external correspondence, including that relating to cases, and is available for consultation if required; (c) he manages relations of a diplomatic nature, in particular with the organs and Members States of the United Nations, with other international organizations and with the government of the country in which the Court has its seat; (d) he maintains relations with the local authorities and press; and (e) he is responsible for issuing information about the Court’s activities and for the Court’s publications, including press releases.
The Registrar’s administrative duties include: (a) the internal administration of the Registry itself; (b) the Court's financial management, in accordance with the financial procedures of the United Nations, and in particular preparing and implementing the budget; (c) the supervision of all administrative tasks including printing; and (d) making arrangements for such provision or verification of translations and interpretations into the Court’s two official languages (English and French) as the Court may require.
Pursuant to the Exchange of Letters between the President of the International Court of Justice and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, and General Assembly Resolution 90 (I), the Registrar is accorded the same privileges and immunities as Heads of Diplomatic Missions in The Hague and, on journeys to third States, all the privileges, immunities and facilities granted to diplomatic envoys.
The Deputy-Registrar (Rules, Art. 27), who is elected in the same way as the Registrar, assists the Registrar and acts as Registrar in the latter’s absence.
The present Registrar is Mr. Philippe Couvreur, of Belgian nationality. On 3 February 2014, he was re-elected to the post for a third seven year term of office commencing on 10 February 2014. Mr. Couvreur was first elected Registrar of the Court on 10 February 2000 and was re-elected on 8 February 2007.
The Deputy-Registrar of the Court is Mr. Jean Pelé Fomété, of Cameroonian nationality. He was elected to the post on 11 February 2013 for a term of seven years as from 16 March 2013.
The names of the former Registrars are listed below :
|Santiago Torres Bernárdez||Spain||1980-1986|
The names of the former Deputy-Registrars are listed below :
|William Tait||United Kingdom||1966-1976|
|Bernard Noble||United Kingdom||1987-1994|
|Thérèse de Saint Phalle||United States of America / France||2008-2013|