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International Court of Justice

International Court of Justice

Overview

The International Court of Justice is the primary judicial organ of the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

. It is based in the Peace Palace
Peace Palace
The Peace Palace is a building situated in The Hague, Netherlands. It is often called the seat of international law because it houses the International Court of Justice , the Permanent Court of Arbitration, the Hague Academy of International Law, and the extensive Peace Palace Library.In addition...

 in The Hague
The Hague
The Hague is the capital city of the province of South Holland in the Netherlands. With a population of 500,000 inhabitants , it is the third largest city of the Netherlands, after Amsterdam and Rotterdam...

, Netherlands
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

. Its main functions are to settle legal
Law
Law is a system of rules and guidelines which are enforced through social institutions to govern behavior, wherever possible. It shapes politics, economics and society in numerous ways and serves as a social mediator of relations between people. Contract law regulates everything from buying a bus...

 disputes submitted to it by state
Sovereign state
A sovereign state, or simply, state, is a state with a defined territory on which it exercises internal and external sovereignty, a permanent population, a government, and the capacity to enter into relations with other sovereign states. It is also normally understood to be a state which is neither...

s and to provide advisory opinions on legal questions submitted to it by duly authorized international organs, agencies, and the UN General Assembly.

Established in 1945 by the UN Charter
United Nations Charter
The Charter of the United Nations is the foundational treaty of the international organization called the United Nations. It was signed at the San Francisco War Memorial and Performing Arts Center in San Francisco, United States, on 26 June 1945, by 50 of the 51 original member countries...

, the Court began work in 1946 as the successor to the Permanent Court of International Justice
Permanent Court of International Justice
The Permanent Court of International Justice, often called the World Court, was an international court attached to the League of Nations. Created in 1922 , the Court was initially met with a good reaction from states and academics alike, with many cases submitted to it for its first decade of...

.
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Encyclopedia

The International Court of Justice is the primary judicial organ of the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

. It is based in the Peace Palace
Peace Palace
The Peace Palace is a building situated in The Hague, Netherlands. It is often called the seat of international law because it houses the International Court of Justice , the Permanent Court of Arbitration, the Hague Academy of International Law, and the extensive Peace Palace Library.In addition...

 in The Hague
The Hague
The Hague is the capital city of the province of South Holland in the Netherlands. With a population of 500,000 inhabitants , it is the third largest city of the Netherlands, after Amsterdam and Rotterdam...

, Netherlands
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

. Its main functions are to settle legal
Law
Law is a system of rules and guidelines which are enforced through social institutions to govern behavior, wherever possible. It shapes politics, economics and society in numerous ways and serves as a social mediator of relations between people. Contract law regulates everything from buying a bus...

 disputes submitted to it by state
Sovereign state
A sovereign state, or simply, state, is a state with a defined territory on which it exercises internal and external sovereignty, a permanent population, a government, and the capacity to enter into relations with other sovereign states. It is also normally understood to be a state which is neither...

s and to provide advisory opinions on legal questions submitted to it by duly authorized international organs, agencies, and the UN General Assembly.

Activities


Established in 1945 by the UN Charter
United Nations Charter
The Charter of the United Nations is the foundational treaty of the international organization called the United Nations. It was signed at the San Francisco War Memorial and Performing Arts Center in San Francisco, United States, on 26 June 1945, by 50 of the 51 original member countries...

, the Court began work in 1946 as the successor to the Permanent Court of International Justice
Permanent Court of International Justice
The Permanent Court of International Justice, often called the World Court, was an international court attached to the League of Nations. Created in 1922 , the Court was initially met with a good reaction from states and academics alike, with many cases submitted to it for its first decade of...

. The Statute of the International Court of Justice
Statute of the International Court of Justice
The Statute of the International Court of Justice is an integral part of the United Nations Charter, as specified by Chapter XIV of the United Nations Charter...

, similar to that of its predecessor, is the main constitutional document constituting and regulating the Court.

The Court's workload covers a wide range of judicial activity. To date, the ICJ has dealt with relatively few cases
Case law
In law, case law is the set of reported judicial decisions of selected appellate courts and other courts of first instance which make new interpretations of the law and, therefore, can be cited as precedents in a process known as stare decisis...

. However, since the 1980s there has been a clear increase in willingness to use the Court, especially among developing countries
Developing country
A developing country, also known as a less-developed country, is a nation with a low level of material well-being. Since no single definition of the term developing country is recognized internationally, the levels of development may vary widely within so-called developing countries...

. After the court ruled that the U.S.'s covert war against Nicaragua was in violation of international law (Nicaragua v. United States), the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 withdrew from compulsory jurisdiction in 1986. The United States accepts the court's jurisdiction only on a case-by-case basis. Chapter XIV of the United Nations Charter
Chapter XIV of the United Nations Charter
Chapter XIV of the United Nations Charter deals with the International Court of Justice. Most provisions related to the World Court are contained in the Statute of the International Court of Justice, which is annexed to the Charter. Article 93 states that all UN members are members of the World Court...

 authorizes the UN Security Council to enforce World Court rulings. However, such enforcement is subject to the veto power of the five permanent members of the Council. Presently there are twelve cases on the World Court's docket.

Composition




The ICJ is composed of fifteen judges elected to nine year terms by the UN General Assembly
United Nations General Assembly
For two articles dealing with membership in the General Assembly, see:* General Assembly members* General Assembly observersThe United Nations General Assembly is one of the five principal organs of the United Nations and the only one in which all member nations have equal representation...

 and the UN Security Council from a list of persons nominated by the national groups in the Permanent Court of Arbitration
Permanent Court of Arbitration
The Permanent Court of Arbitration , is an international organization based in The Hague in the Netherlands.-History:The court was established in 1899 as one of the acts of the first Hague Peace Conference, which makes it the oldest institution for international dispute resolution.The creation of...

. The election process is set out in Articles 4–19 of the ICJ statute. Judges serve for nine year terms and may be re-elected for up to two further terms. Elections take place every three years, with one-third of the judges retiring (and possibly standing for re-election) each time, in order to ensure continuity within the court.

Should a judge die in office, the practice has generally been to elect a judge of the same nationality
Nationality
Nationality is membership of a nation or sovereign state, usually determined by their citizenship, but sometimes by ethnicity or place of residence, or based on their sense of national identity....

 to complete the term. No two may be nationals of the same country. According to Article 9, the membership of the Court is supposed to represent the "main forms of civilization and of the principal legal systems of the world". Essentially, this has meant common law
Common law
Common law is law developed by judges through decisions of courts and similar tribunals rather than through legislative statutes or executive branch action...

, civil law
Civil law (legal system)
Civil law is a legal system inspired by Roman law and whose primary feature is that laws are codified into collections, as compared to common law systems that gives great precedential weight to common law on the principle that it is unfair to treat similar facts differently on different...

 and socialist law
Socialist law
Socialist law denotes a general type of legal system which has been used in communist and formerly communist states. It is based on the civil law system, with major modifications and additions from Marxist-Leninist ideology. There is controversy as to whether socialist law ever constituted a...

 (now post-communist law). Since the 1990s four of the five permanent members of the Security Council (France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

, Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

, the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

, and the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

) have always had a judge on the Court. The exception was China (the Republic of China
Republic of China
The Republic of China , commonly known as Taiwan , is a unitary sovereign state located in East Asia. Originally based in mainland China, the Republic of China currently governs the island of Taiwan , which forms over 99% of its current territory, as well as Penghu, Kinmen, Matsu and other minor...

 until 1971, the People's Republic of China
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

 from 1971 onwards), which did not have a judge on the Court from 1967–1985, because it did not put forward a candidate. The rule on a geopolitical composition of the bench exists despite the fact that there is no provision for it in the Statute of the ICJ.

Article 6 of the Statute provides that all judges should be "elected regardless of their nationality among persons of high moral
Moral
A moral is a message conveyed or a lesson to be learned from a story or event. The moral may be left to the hearer, reader or viewer to determine for themselves, or may be explicitly encapsulated in a maxim...

 character", who are either qualified for the highest judicial office in their home states or known as lawyers with sufficient competence in international law. Judicial independence is dealt specifically with in Articles 16–18. Judges of the ICJ are not able to hold any other post, nor act as counsel
Counsel
A counsel or a counselor gives advice, more particularly in legal matters.-U.K. and Ireland:The legal system in England uses the term counsel as an approximate synonym for a barrister-at-law, and may apply it to mean either a single person who pleads a cause, or collectively, the body of barristers...

. In practice the Members of the Court have their own interpretation of these rules. This allows them to be involved in outside arbitration and hold professional posts as long as there is no conflict of interest. A judge can be dismissed only by a unanimous
Unanimity
Unanimity is agreement by all people in a given situation. When unanimous, everybody is of the same mind and acting together as one. Though unlike uniformity, it does not constitute absolute agreement. Many groups consider unanimous decisions a sign of agreement, solidarity, and unity...

 vote of other members of the Court. Despite these provisions, the independence of ICJ judges has been questioned. For example, during the Nicaragua Case, the USA
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 issued a communiqué suggesting that it could not present sensitive material to the Court because of the presence of judges from Eastern bloc
Eastern bloc
The term Eastern Bloc or Communist Bloc refers to the former communist states of Eastern and Central Europe, generally the Soviet Union and the countries of the Warsaw Pact...

 states.

Judges may deliver joint judgments or give their own separate opinions. Decisions and Advisory Opinion
Advisory opinion
An advisory opinion is an opinion issued by a court that does not have the effect of adjudicating a specific legal case, but merely advises on the constitutionality or interpretation of a law. Some countries have procedures by which the executive or legislative branches may certify important...

s are by majority and, in the event of an equal division, the President's vote becomes decisive. Judges may also deliver separate dissenting opinions.

Ad hoc judges


Article 31 of the statute sets out a procedure whereby ad hoc
Ad hoc
Ad hoc is a Latin phrase meaning "for this". It generally signifies a solution designed for a specific problem or task, non-generalizable, and not intended to be able to be adapted to other purposes. Compare A priori....

judges sit on contentious cases before the Court. This system allows any party to a contentious case to nominate a judge of their choosing. It is possible that as many as seventeen judges may sit on one case.

This system may seem strange when compared with domestic court processes, but its purpose is to encourage states to submit cases to the Court. For example, if a state knows it will have a judicial officer who can participate in deliberation and offer other judges local knowledge and an understanding of the state's perspective, that state may be more willing to submit to the Court's jurisdiction. Although this system does not sit well with the judicial nature of the body, it is usually of little practical consequence. Ad hoc judges usually (but not always) vote in favor of the state that appointed them and thus cancel each other out.

Chambers


Generally, the Court sits as full bench, but in the last fifteen years it has on occasion sat as a chamber. Articles 26–29 of the statute allow the Court to form smaller chambers, usually 3 or 5 judges, to hear cases. Two types of chambers are contemplated by Article 26: firstly, chambers for special categories of cases, and second, the formation of ad hoc chambers to hear particular disputes. In 1993 a special chamber was established, under Article 26(1) of the ICJ statute, to deal specifically with environmental
Environment (biophysical)
The biophysical environment is the combined modeling of the physical environment and the biological life forms within the environment, and includes all variables, parameters as well as conditions and modes inside the Earth's biosphere. The biophysical environment can be divided into two categories:...

 matters (although this chamber has never been used).

Ad hoc chambers are more frequently convened. For example, chambers were used to hear the Gulf of Maine Case (USA
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 v Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

). In that case, the parties made clear they would withdraw the case unless the Court appointed judges to the chamber who were acceptable to the parties. Judgments of chambers may have less authority than full Court judgments, or may diminish the proper interpretation of universal international law informed by a variety of cultural and legal perspectives. On the other hand, the use of chambers might encourage greater recourse to the Court and thus enhance international dispute resolution
Dispute resolution
Dispute resolution is the process of resolving disputes between parties.-Methods:Methods of dispute resolution include:* lawsuits * arbitration* collaborative law* mediation* conciliation* many types of negotiation* facilitation...

.

Current composition


As of June 2010, the composition of the Court is as follows:
Name Nationality Position Term Began Term End
Hisashi Owada
Hisashi Owada
is a former Japanese diplomat and a judge on the International Court of Justice, and currently serves as its President, having been elected to this post in 2009.-Early life:Hisashi Owada was born in Shibata, Niigata Prefecture, Japan. After earning a B.A...

 
  Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

 
President 2003 2012
Peter Tomka
Peter Tomka
Peter Tomka , is a Slovak diplomat and has served as a Judge on the International Court of Justice since 2003.-Early life and education:...

 
  Slovakia
Slovakia
The Slovak Republic is a landlocked state in Central Europe. It has a population of over five million and an area of about . Slovakia is bordered by the Czech Republic and Austria to the west, Poland to the north, Ukraine to the east and Hungary to the south...

 
Vice-President 2003 2012
Abdul G. Koroma
Abdul G. Koroma
Abdul Gadire Koroma is a judge at the International Court of Justice, having been a member of the court since 6 February 1994....

  Sierra Leone
Sierra Leone
Sierra Leone , officially the Republic of Sierra Leone, is a country in West Africa. It is bordered by Guinea to the north and east, Liberia to the southeast, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west and southwest. Sierra Leone covers a total area of and has an estimated population between 5.4 and 6.4...

 
Member 1994, 2003 2012
Awn Shawkat Al-Khasawneh
Awn Shawkat Al-Khasawneh
Awn Shawkat Al-Khasawneh is the Prime Minister of Jordan. He was a judge at International Court of Justice beginning in 2000, and re-elected to serve another nine-year term on November 6, 2008.-Career:...

 
  Jordan
Jordan
Jordan , officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan , Al-Mamlaka al-Urduniyya al-Hashemiyya) is a kingdom on the East Bank of the River Jordan. The country borders Saudi Arabia to the east and south-east, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north and the West Bank and Israel to the west, sharing...

 
Member 2000, 2009 2018
Bruno Simma
Bruno Simma
Bruno Simma , is a German jurist who has served as a judge on the International Court of Justice since 2003....

 
  Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 
Member 2003 2012
Ronny Abraham
Ronny Abraham
Ronny Abraham was elected to the International Court of Justice, to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of judge and former President Gilbert Guillaume. He served the remainder of Guillaume's which ended on 5 February 2009, and was reelected for a term extending to 2018. He was born on 5...

 
  France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 
Member 2005, 2009 2018
Sir Kenneth Keith
Kenneth Keith
Sir Kenneth James Keith, ONZ, KBE, QC is a New Zealand judge appointed to the International Court of Justice in November 2005....

 
New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

 
Member 2006 2015
Bernardo Sepúlveda Amor
Bernardo Sepúlveda Amor
Bernardo Sepúlveda Amor is a Mexican jurist, politician, and diplomat.-Biography:He was born in Mexico City, where he studied law at the National Autonomous University...

 
  Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

 
Member 2006 2015
Mohamed Bennouna
Mohamed Bennouna
Mohamed Bennouna is a diplomat and jurist from Morocco. He worked as a professor at the Mohammed V University, as a permanent representative of his native country at the United Nations from 1998 to 2001, as a Judge of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia...

 
  Morocco
Morocco
Morocco , officially the Kingdom of Morocco , is a country located in North Africa. It has a population of more than 32 million and an area of 710,850 km², and also primarily administers the disputed region of the Western Sahara...

 
Member 2006 2015
Leonid Skotnikov
Leonid Skotnikov
Leonid Skotnikov is a Russian judge currently serving on the United Nations International Court of Justice in the The Hague, Netherlands.- Education :...

 
  Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

 
Member 2006 2015
Antônio Augusto Cançado Trindade
Antônio Augusto Cançado Trindade
thumb|right|180px|Trindade at the a committee of the [[Brazilian Senate]] in [[2008]].Antônio Augusto Cançado Trindade is a Brazilian judge on the International Court of Justice, based in The Hague , Netherlands, a position he has held since 6 February 2009...

 
  Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

 
Member 2009 2018
Abdulqawi Yusuf
Abdulqawi Yusuf
Dr. Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf is a prominent Somali international lawyer and judge. As of February 6, 2009, he is a judge at the International Court of Justice.-Biography:...

 
  Somalia
Somalia
Somalia , officially the Somali Republic and formerly known as the Somali Democratic Republic under Socialist rule, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. Since the outbreak of the Somali Civil War in 1991 there has been no central government control over most of the country's territory...

 
Member 2009 2018
Sir Christopher John Greenwood  United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 
Member 2009 2018
Xue Hanqin
Xue Hanqin
Xue Hanqin is a judge at the International Court of Justice. On 29 June 2010 she was elected to fill the vacancy created by Shi Jiuyong's resignation on 28 May 2010. She is one of two female judges serving on the ICJ and one of only three women elected as members of the Court to date...

 
  People's Republic of China
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

 
Member 2010 2012
Joan Donoghue
Joan Donoghue
Joan E. Donoghue is an American jurist, currently serving as a Judge on the International Court of Justice, having been elected to that post in 2010...

  United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 
Member 2010 2015


Results of the last election of November 6, 2008:
  • Re-elected were France
    France
    The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

    's Ronny Abraham
    Ronny Abraham
    Ronny Abraham was elected to the International Court of Justice, to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of judge and former President Gilbert Guillaume. He served the remainder of Guillaume's which ended on 5 February 2009, and was reelected for a term extending to 2018. He was born on 5...

     and Jordan
    Jordan
    Jordan , officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan , Al-Mamlaka al-Urduniyya al-Hashemiyya) is a kingdom on the East Bank of the River Jordan. The country borders Saudi Arabia to the east and south-east, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north and the West Bank and Israel to the west, sharing...

    's Awn Shawkat Al-Khasawneh
    Awn Shawkat Al-Khasawneh
    Awn Shawkat Al-Khasawneh is the Prime Minister of Jordan. He was a judge at International Court of Justice beginning in 2000, and re-elected to serve another nine-year term on November 6, 2008.-Career:...

     (terms expired on February 5, 2009), while UK's Christopher Greenwood
    Christopher Greenwood
    Sir Christopher John Greenwood CMG QC is a duly elected member of the International Court of Justice. He is a barrister and professor of international law at the London School of Economics...

    , Brazil
    Brazil
    Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

    ’s Antônio Augusto Cançado Trindade
    Antônio Augusto Cançado Trindade
    thumb|right|180px|Trindade at the a committee of the [[Brazilian Senate]] in [[2008]].Antônio Augusto Cançado Trindade is a Brazilian judge on the International Court of Justice, based in The Hague , Netherlands, a position he has held since 6 February 2009...

     and Somalia
    Somalia
    Somalia , officially the Somali Republic and formerly known as the Somali Democratic Republic under Socialist rule, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. Since the outbreak of the Somali Civil War in 1991 there has been no central government control over most of the country's territory...

    's Abdulqawi Yusuf
    Abdulqawi Yusuf
    Dr. Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf is a prominent Somali international lawyer and judge. As of February 6, 2009, he is a judge at the International Court of Justice.-Biography:...

     (terms began on February 6, 2009) were newly elected.

  • The declared candidates Sayeman Bula-Bula (Democratic Republic of the Congo), Miriam Defensor-Santiago
    Miriam Defensor-Santiago
    Miriam Defensor Santiago is a Senator of the Philippines. She is a lawyer, former trial judge and professor of constitutional and international law. She served as the Commissioner of the Bureau of Immigration and Deportation in 1988 and the Secretary of the Department of Agrarian Reform from 1989...

     (Philippines
    Philippines
    The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...

    ) and Maurice Kamto (Cameroon) lost in the final voting. The 3 new judges replaced UK's Rosalyn Higgins
    Rosalyn Higgins
    Dame Rosalyn Higgins, DBE, QC is the former President of the International Court of Justice. Higgins was the first female judge to be appointed to the ICJ, and was elected President in 2006. Her term of office expired on 6 February 2009...

     (ICJ President), Gonzalo Parra Aranguren
    Gonzalo Parra Aranguren
    Gonzalo Parra Aranguren, born in Caracas, Venezuela, on 5 December 1928, is a judge at the International Court of Justice of the United Nations in The Hague, Netherlands. He was born in Venezuela and is married to María Trinidad Pulido Santana. He served as a Professor at the Hague Academy of...

     of Venezuela and Madagascar
    Madagascar
    The Republic of Madagascar is an island country located in the Indian Ocean off the southeastern coast of Africa...

    ’s Raymond Ranjeva
    Raymond Ranjeva
    Raymond Ranjeva , served as a judge on the International Court of Justice from 1991 until February 2009....

     (terms all expired on February 5, 2009).

Jurisdiction


As stated in Article 93 of the UN Charter, all 193 UN members are automatically parties
Party (law)
A party is a person or group of persons that compose a single entity which can be identified as one for the purposes of the law. Parties include: plaintiff , defendant , petitioner , respondent , cross-complainant A party is a person or group of persons that compose a single entity which can be...

 to the Court's statute. Non-UN members may also become parties to the Court's statute under the Article 93(2) procedure. For example, before becoming a UN member state, Switzerland
Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

 used this procedure in 1948 to become a party. And Nauru
Nauru
Nauru , officially the Republic of Nauru and formerly known as Pleasant Island, is an island country in Micronesia in the South Pacific. Its nearest neighbour is Banaba Island in Kiribati, to the east. Nauru is the world's smallest republic, covering just...

 became a party in 1988. Once a state is a party to the Court's statute, it is entitled to participate in cases before the Court. However, being a party to the statute does not automatically give the Court jurisdiction over disputes involving those parties. The issue of jurisdiction
Jurisdiction
Jurisdiction is the practical authority granted to a formally constituted legal body or to a political leader to deal with and make pronouncements on legal matters and, by implication, to administer justice within a defined area of responsibility...

 is considered in the two types of ICJ cases: contentious issues and advisory opinions.

Contentious issues


In contentious cases (adversarial proceedings seeking to settle a dispute), the ICJ produces a binding ruling between states that agree to submit to the ruling of the court. Only state
Sovereign state
A sovereign state, or simply, state, is a state with a defined territory on which it exercises internal and external sovereignty, a permanent population, a government, and the capacity to enter into relations with other sovereign states. It is also normally understood to be a state which is neither...

s may be parties in contentious cases. Individual
Individual
An individual is a person or any specific object or thing in a collection. Individuality is the state or quality of being an individual; a person separate from other persons and possessing his or her own needs, goals, and desires. Being self expressive...

s, corporation
Corporation
A corporation is created under the laws of a state as a separate legal entity that has privileges and liabilities that are distinct from those of its members. There are many different forms of corporations, most of which are used to conduct business. Early corporations were established by charter...

s, parts of a federal state, NGOs, UN organs and self-determination
Self-determination
Self-determination is the principle in international law that nations have the right to freely choose their sovereignty and international political status with no external compulsion or external interference...

 groups are excluded from direct participation in cases, although the Court may receive information from public international organization
International organization
An intergovernmental organization, sometimes rendered as an international governmental organization and both abbreviated as IGO, is an organization composed primarily of sovereign states , or of other intergovernmental organizations...

s. This does not preclude non-state interests from being the subject of proceedings if one state brings the case against another. For example, a state may, in case of "diplomatic protection", bring a case on behalf of one of its nationals or corporations.

Jurisdiction is often a crucial question for the Court in contentious cases. (See Procedure below.) The key principle is that the ICJ has jurisdiction only on the basis of consent. Article 36 outlines four bases on which the Court's jurisdiction may be founded.
  • First, 36(1) provides that parties may refer cases to the Court (jurisdiction founded on "special agreement" or "compromis"). This method is based on explicit consent rather than true compulsory jurisdiction. It is, perhaps, the most effective basis for the Court's jurisdiction because the parties concerned have a desire for the dispute to be resolved by the Court and are thus more likely to comply with the Court's judgment.
  • Second, 36(1) also gives the Court jurisdiction over "matters specifically provided for ... in treaties and conventions in force". Most modern treaties
    Treaty
    A treaty is an express agreement under international law entered into by actors in international law, namely sovereign states and international organizations. A treaty may also be known as an agreement, protocol, covenant, convention or exchange of letters, among other terms...

     will contain a compromissory clause, providing for dispute resolution by the ICJ. Cases founded on compromissory clauses have not been as effective as cases founded on special agreement, since a state may have no interest in having the matter examined by the Court and may refuse to comply with a judgment. For example, during the Iran hostage crisis
    Iran hostage crisis
    The Iran hostage crisis was a diplomatic crisis between Iran and the United States where 52 Americans were held hostage for 444 days from November 4, 1979 to January 20, 1981, after a group of Islamist students and militants took over the American Embassy in Tehran in support of the Iranian...

    , Iran
    Iran
    Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

     refused to participate in a case brought by the US based on a compromissory clause contained in the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations
    Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations
    The Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961 is an international treaty that defines a framework for diplomatic relations between independent countries. It specifies the privileges of a diplomatic mission that enable diplomats to perform their function without fear of coercion or...

    , nor did it comply with the judgment. Since the 1970s, the use of such clauses has declined. Many modern treaties set out their own dispute resolution regime, often based on forms of arbitration
    Arbitration
    Arbitration, a form of alternative dispute resolution , is a legal technique for the resolution of disputes outside the courts, where the parties to a dispute refer it to one or more persons , by whose decision they agree to be bound...

    .
  • Third, Article 36(2) allows states to make optional clause declarations accepting the Court's jurisdiction. The label "compulsory" which is sometimes placed on Article 36(2) jurisdiction is misleading since declarations by states are voluntary. Furthermore, many declarations contain reservations, such as exclusion from jurisdiction certain types of disputes ("ratione materia"). The principle of reciprocity
    Reciprocity (international relations)
    In international relations and treaties, the principle of reciprocity states that favours, benefits, or penalties that are granted by one state to the citizens or legal entities of another, should be returned in kind....

     may further limit jurisdiction. As of February 2011, sixty-six states had a declaration in force. Of the permanent Security Council members, only the United Kingdom
    United Kingdom
    The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

     has a declaration. In the Court's early years, most declarations were made by industrialized countries. Since the Nicaragua Case, declarations made by developing countries have increased, reflecting a growing confidence in the Court since the 1980s. Industrialized countries however have sometimes increased exclusions or removed their declarations in recent years. Examples include the USA, as mentioned previously and Australia
    Australia
    Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

     who modified their declaration in 2002 to exclude disputes on maritime boundaries
    Maritime boundary
    Maritime boundary is a conceptual means of division of the water surface of the planet into maritime areas that are defined through surrounding physical geography or by human geography. As such it usually includes areas of exclusive national rights over the mineral and biological resources,...

     (most likely to prevent an impending challenge from East Timor
    East Timor
    The Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, commonly known as East Timor , is a state in Southeast Asia. It comprises the eastern half of the island of Timor, the nearby islands of Atauro and Jaco, and Oecusse, an exclave on the northwestern side of the island, within Indonesian West Timor...

     who gained their independence two months later).
  • Finally, 36(5) provides for jurisdiction on the basis of declarations made under the Permanent Court of International Justice
    Permanent Court of International Justice
    The Permanent Court of International Justice, often called the World Court, was an international court attached to the League of Nations. Created in 1922 , the Court was initially met with a good reaction from states and academics alike, with many cases submitted to it for its first decade of...

    's statute. Article 37 of the Statute similarly transfers jurisdiction under any compromissory clause in a treaty that gave jurisdiction to the PCIJ.
  • In addition, the Court may have jurisdiction on the basis of tacit consent (forum prorogatum). In the absence of clear jurisdiction under Article 36, jurisdiction will be established if the respondent accepts ICJ jurisdiction explicitly or simply pleads on the merits. The notion arose in the Corfu Channel Case (UK v Albania) (1949) in which the Court held that a letter from Albania
    Albania
    Albania , officially known as the Republic of Albania , is a country in Southeastern Europe, in the Balkans region. It is bordered by Montenegro to the northwest, Kosovo to the northeast, the Republic of Macedonia to the east and Greece to the south and southeast. It has a coast on the Adriatic Sea...

     stating that it submitted to the jurisdiction of the ICJ was sufficient to grant the court jurisdiction.

Advisory opinion


An advisory opinion
Advisory opinion
An advisory opinion is an opinion issued by a court that does not have the effect of adjudicating a specific legal case, but merely advises on the constitutionality or interpretation of a law. Some countries have procedures by which the executive or legislative branches may certify important...

 is a function of the Court open only to specified United Nations bodies and agencies. On receiving a request, the Court decides which States and organizations might provide useful information and gives them an opportunity to present written or oral statements. Advisory Opinions were intended as a means by which UN agencies could seek the Court's help in deciding complex legal issues that might fall under their respective mandates.

In principle, the Court's advisory opinions are only consultative in character, but they are influential and widely respected. Whilst certain instruments or regulations can provide in advance that the advisory opinion shall be specifically binding on particular agencies or states, they are inherently non-binding under the Statute of the Court. This non-binding character does not mean that advisory opinions are without legal effect, because the legal reasoning embodied in them reflects the Court's authoritative views on important issues of international law and, in arriving at them, the Court follows essentially the same rules and procedures that govern its binding judgments delivered in contentious cases submitted to it by sovereign states.

An advisory opinion derives its status and authority from the fact that it is the official pronouncement of the principal judicial organ of the United Nations.

Advisory Opinions have often been controversial because the questions asked are controversial or the case was pursued as an indirect way of bringing what is really a contentious case before the Court. Examples of advisory opinions can be found in the section advisory opinions in the List of International Court of Justice cases article. One such well-known advisory opinion is the Nuclear Weapons Case.

ICJ and the Security Council


Article 94 establishes the duty of all UN members to comply with decisions of the Court involving them. If parties do not comply, the issue may be taken before the Security Council for enforcement action. There are obvious problems with such a method of enforcement. If the judgment is against one of the permanent five members of the Security Council or its allies, any resolution on enforcement would then be vetoed. This occurred, for example, after the Nicaragua case, when Nicaragua
Nicaragua
Nicaragua is the largest country in the Central American American isthmus, bordered by Honduras to the north and Costa Rica to the south. The country is situated between 11 and 14 degrees north of the Equator in the Northern Hemisphere, which places it entirely within the tropics. The Pacific Ocean...

 brought the issue of the U.S.'s non-compliance with the Court's decision before the Security Council. Furthermore, if the Security Council refuses to enforce a judgment against any other state, there is no method of forcing the state to comply. Furthermore, the most effective form to take action for the Security Council, coercive action under Chapter VII
Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter
Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter sets out the UN Security Council's powers to maintain peace. It allows the Council to "determine the existence of any threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression" and to take military and nonmilitary action to "restore international peace...

 of the United Nations Charter
United Nations Charter
The Charter of the United Nations is the foundational treaty of the international organization called the United Nations. It was signed at the San Francisco War Memorial and Performing Arts Center in San Francisco, United States, on 26 June 1945, by 50 of the 51 original member countries...

, can be justified only if international peace and security are at stake. The Security Council has never done this so far.

The relationship between the ICJ and the Security Council, and the separation of their powers, was considered by the Court in 1992 in the Pan Am case
Pan Am Flight 103 bombing trial
The Pan Am Flight 103 bombing trial began on 3 May 2000, 11 years, 4 months and 13 days after the destruction of Pan Am Flight 103 on 21 December 1988...

. The Court had to consider an application from Libya
Libya
Libya is an African country in the Maghreb region of North Africa bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to the east, Sudan to the southeast, Chad and Niger to the south, and Algeria and Tunisia to the west....

 for the order of provisional measures to protect its rights, which, it alleged, were being infringed by the threat of economic sanctions by the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 and United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. The problem was that these sanctions had been authorized by the Security Council, which resulted with a potential conflict between the Chapter VII functions of the Security Council and the judicial function of the Court. The Court decided, by eleven votes to five, that it could not order the requested provisional measures because the rights claimed by Libya, even if legitimate under the Montreal Convention
Montreal Convention
The Montreal Convention, formally the Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules for International Carriage by Air, is a treaty adopted by a Diplomatic meeting of ICAO member states in 1999. It amended important provisions of the Warsaw Convention's regime concerning compensation for the...

, prima facie
Prima facie
Prima facie is a Latin expression meaning on its first encounter, first blush, or at first sight. The literal translation would be "at first face", from the feminine form of primus and facies , both in the ablative case. It is used in modern legal English to signify that on first examination, a...

 could not be regarded as appropriate since the action was ordered by the Security Council. In accordance with Article 103 of the UN Charter, obligations under the Charter took precedence over other treaty obligations. Nevertheless the Court declared the application admissible in 1998. A decision on the merits has not been given since the parties (United Kingdom, United States and Libya) settled the case out of court in 2003.

There was a marked reluctance on the part of a majority of the Court to become involved in a dispute in such a way as to bring it potentially into conflict with the Council. The Court stated in the Nicaragua case that there is no necessary inconsistency between action by the Security Council and adjudication by the ICJ. However, where there is room for conflict, the balance appears to be in favor of the Security Council.

Should either party fail "to perform the obligations incumbent upon it under a judgment rendered by the Court", the Security Council may be called upon to "make recommendations or decide upon measures" if the Security Council deems such actions necessary. In practice, the Court's powers have been limited by the unwillingness of the losing party to abide by the Court's ruling, and by the Security Council's unwillingness to impose consequences. However, in theory, "so far as the parties to the case are concerned, a judgment of the Court is binding, final and without appeal," and "by signing the Charter, a State Member of the United Nations undertakes to comply with any decision of the International Court of Justice in a case to which it is a party."

For example, the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 had previously accepted the Court's compulsory jurisdiction upon its creation in 1946, but in Nicaragua v. United States withdrew its acceptance following the Court's judgment in 1984 that called on the U.S. to "cease and to refrain" from the "unlawful use of force" against the government of Nicaragua
Nicaragua
Nicaragua is the largest country in the Central American American isthmus, bordered by Honduras to the north and Costa Rica to the south. The country is situated between 11 and 14 degrees north of the Equator in the Northern Hemisphere, which places it entirely within the tropics. The Pacific Ocean...

. The Court ruled (with only the American judge dissenting) that the United States was "in breach of its obligation under the Treaty of Friendship with Nicaragua not to use force against Nicaragua" and ordered the United States to pay war reparations (see note 2).

Examples of contentious cases

  • A complaint by the United States
    United States
    The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

     in 1980 that Iran
    Iran
    Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

     was detaining American diplomats in Tehran
    Tehran
    Tehran , sometimes spelled Teheran, is the capital of Iran and Tehran Province. With an estimated population of 8,429,807; it is also Iran's largest urban area and city, one of the largest cities in Western Asia, and is the world's 19th largest city.In the 20th century, Tehran was subject to...

     in violation of international law.
  • A dispute between Tunisia
    Tunisia
    Tunisia , officially the Tunisian RepublicThe long name of Tunisia in other languages used in the country is: , is the northernmost country in Africa. It is a Maghreb country and is bordered by Algeria to the west, Libya to the southeast, and the Mediterranean Sea to the north and east. Its area...

     and Libya
    Libya
    Libya is an African country in the Maghreb region of North Africa bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to the east, Sudan to the southeast, Chad and Niger to the south, and Algeria and Tunisia to the west....

     over the delimitation of the continental shelf between them.
  • A complaint by Pakistan
    Pakistan
    Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

     on behalf of the people of Kashmir
    Kashmir
    Kashmir is the northwestern region of the Indian subcontinent. Until the mid-19th century, the term Kashmir geographically denoted only the valley between the Great Himalayas and the Pir Panjal mountain range...

     over oppression against India
    India
    India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

     and charged it with State terrorism
    State terrorism
    State terrorism may refer to acts of terrorism conducted by a state against a foreign state or people. It can also refer to acts of violence by a state against its own people.-Definition:...

     directly continuing violations of the international law.
  • A dispute over the course of the maritime boundary dividing the U.S. and Canada
    Canada
    Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

     in the Gulf of Maine
    Gulf of Maine
    The Gulf of Maine is a large gulf of the Atlantic Ocean on the east coast of North America.It is delineated by Cape Cod at the eastern tip of Massachusetts in the southwest and Cape Sable at the southern tip of Nova Scotia in the northeast. It includes the entire coastlines of the U.S...

     area.
  • A complaint by the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia against the member states of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization regarding their actions in the Kosovo War
    Kosovo War
    The term Kosovo War or Kosovo conflict was two sequential, and at times parallel, armed conflicts in Kosovo province, then part of FR Yugoslav Republic of Serbia; from early 1998 to 1999, there was an armed conflict initiated by the ethnic Albanian "Kosovo Liberation Army" , who sought independence...

    . This was denied on December 15, 2004 due to lack of jurisdiction, because the FRY was not a party to the ICJ statute at the time it made the application.
  • A complaint by the Republic of Macedonia
    Republic of Macedonia
    Macedonia , officially the Republic of Macedonia , is a country located in the central Balkan peninsula in Southeast Europe. It is one of the successor states of the former Yugoslavia, from which it declared independence in 1991...

     (former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) that Greece
    Greece
    Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

     is, by vetoing their accession to NATO and EU, in violation of the Interim Accord of 13 September 1995 between the two countries, will be decided on December 5, 2011.


Generally, the Court has been most successful resolving border delineation and the use of oceans and waterways. While the Court has, in some instances, resolved claims by one State espoused on behalf of its nationals, the Court has generally refrained from hearing contentious cases that are political in nature, due in part to its lack of enforcement mechanism and its lack of compulsory jurisdiction. The Court has generally found it did not have jurisdiction to hear cases involving the use of force.

Law applied


When deciding cases, the Court applies international law as summarised in Article 38 of the ICJ Statute
Statute of the International Court of Justice
The Statute of the International Court of Justice is an integral part of the United Nations Charter, as specified by Chapter XIV of the United Nations Charter...

 provides that in arriving at its decisions the Court shall apply international conventions, international custom, and the "general principles of law recognized by civilized nations". It may also refer to academic writing ("the teachings of the most highly qualified publicists of the various nations") and previous judicial decisions to help interpret the law, although the Court is not formally bound by its previous decisions under the doctrine of stare decisis
Stare decisis
Stare decisis is a legal principle by which judges are obliged to respect the precedents established by prior decisions...

. Article 59 makes clear that the common law
Common law
Common law is law developed by judges through decisions of courts and similar tribunals rather than through legislative statutes or executive branch action...

 notion of precedent
Precedent
In common law legal systems, a precedent or authority is a principle or rule established in a legal case that a court or other judicial body may apply when deciding subsequent cases with similar issues or facts...

 or stare decisis
Stare decisis
Stare decisis is a legal principle by which judges are obliged to respect the precedents established by prior decisions...

does not apply to the decisions of the ICJ. The Court's decision binds only the parties to that particular controversy. Under 38(1)(d), however, the Court may consider its own previous decisions. In reality, the ICJ rarely departs from its own previous decisions and treats them as precedent in a way similar to superior court
Superior court
In common law systems, a superior court is a court of general competence which typically has unlimited jurisdiction with regard to civil and criminal legal cases...

s in common law systems. Additionally, international lawyers commonly operate as though ICJ judgments had precedential value.

If the parties agree, they may also grant the Court the liberty to decide ex aequo et bono
Ex aequo et bono
Ex aequo et bono is a phrase derived from Latin that is used as a legal term of art...

("in justice and fairness"), granting the ICJ the freedom to make an equitable decision based on what is fair under the circumstances. This provision has not been used in the Court's history. So far the International Court of Justice has dealt with about 130 cases.

Procedure


The ICJ is vested with the power to make its own rules. Court procedure is set out in Rules of Court of the International Court of Justice 1978 (as amended on 29 September 2005).

Cases before the ICJ will follow a standard pattern. The case is lodged by the applicant who files a written memorial setting out the basis of the Court's jurisdiction and the merits of its claim. The respondent may accept the Court's jurisdiction and file its own memorial on the merits of the case.

Preliminary objections


A respondent who does not wish to submit to the jurisdiction of the Court may raise Preliminary Objections. Any such objections must be ruled upon before the Court can address the merits of the applicant's claim. Often a separate public hearing is held on the Preliminary Objections and the Court will render a judgment. Respondents normally file Preliminary Objections to the jurisdiction of the Court and/or the admissibility of the case. Inadmissibility refers to a range of arguments about factors the Court should take into account in deciding jurisdiction; for example, that the issue is not justiciable or that it is not a "legal dispute".

In addition, objections may be made because all necessary parties are not before the Court. If the case necessarily requires the Court to rule on the rights and obligations of a state that has not consented to the Court's jurisdiction, the Court will not proceed to issue a judgment on the merits.
If the Court decides it has jurisdiction and the case is admissible, the respondent will then be required to file a Memorial addressing the merits of the applicant's claim. Once all written arguments are filed, the Court will hold a public hearing on the merits.

Once a case has been filed, any party (but usually the Applicant) may seek an order from the Court to protect the status quo pending the hearing of the case. Such orders are known as Provisional (or Interim) Measures and are analogous to interlocutory injunction
Injunction
An injunction is an equitable remedy in the form of a court order that requires a party to do or refrain from doing certain acts. A party that fails to comply with an injunction faces criminal or civil penalties and may have to pay damages or accept sanctions...

s in United States law. Article 41 of the statute allows the Court to make such orders. The Court must be satisfied to have prima facie
Prima facie
Prima facie is a Latin expression meaning on its first encounter, first blush, or at first sight. The literal translation would be "at first face", from the feminine form of primus and facies , both in the ablative case. It is used in modern legal English to signify that on first examination, a...

 jurisdiction to hear the merits of the case before granting provisional measures.

Applications to intervene


In cases where a third state's interests are affected, that state may be permitted to intervene in the case, and participate as a full party. Under Article 62, a state "with an interest of a legal nature" may apply; however, it is within the Court's discretion whether or not to allow the intervention. Intervention applications are rare — the first successful application occurred in 1991.

Judgment and remedies


Once deliberation has taken place, the Court will issue a majority opinion. Individual judges may issue separate opinions (if they agree with the outcome reached in the judgment of the court but differ in their reasoning) or dissenting opinions (if they disagree with the majority). No appeal is possible, though any party may ask for the court to clarify if there is a dispute as to the meaning or scope of the court's judgment.

Criticisms


The International Court has been criticized with respect to its rulings, its procedures, and its authority. As with United Nations criticisms as a whole, many of these criticisms refer more to the general authority assigned to the body by member states through its charter than to specific problems with the composition of judges or their rulings. Major criticisms include:
  • "Compulsory" jurisdiction is limited to cases where both parties have agreed to submit to its decision, and, as such, instances of aggression tend to be automatically escalated to and adjudicated by the Security Council.
  • Organizations, private enterprises, and individuals cannot have their cases taken to the International Court, such as to appeal a national supreme court's ruling. U.N. agencies likewise cannot bring up a case except in advisory opinions (a process initiated by the court and non-binding).
  • Other existing international thematic courts, such as the ICC
    International Criminal Court
    The International Criminal Court is a permanent tribunal to prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression .It came into being on 1 July 2002—the date its founding treaty, the Rome Statute of the...

    , are not under the umbrella of the International Court.
  • The International Court does not enjoy a full separation of powers
    Separation of powers
    The separation of powers, often imprecisely used interchangeably with the trias politica principle, is a model for the governance of a state. The model was first developed in ancient Greece and came into widespread use by the Roman Republic as part of the unmodified Constitution of the Roman Republic...

    , with permanent members of the Security Council being able to veto enforcement of even cases to which they consented in advance to be bound.

See also


  • International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda
    International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda
    The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda is an international court established in November 1994 by the United Nations Security Council in Resolution 955 in order to judge people responsible for the Rwandan Genocide and other serious violations of international law in Rwanda, or by Rwandan...

  • International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia
    International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia
    The International Tribunal for the Prosecution of Persons Responsible for Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law Committed in the Territory of the Former Yugoslavia since 1991, more commonly referred to as the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia or ICTY, is a...

  • List of International Court of Justice cases
  • List of treaties that confer jurisdiction on the International Court of Justice
  • Mundialization
    Mundialization
    The word mundialisation, is the English version of the French word "mondialisation", which today refers in French to what is referred to in English as "globalisation"...

  • United Nations Economic and Social Council
    United Nations Economic and Social Council
    The Economic and Social Council of the United Nations constitutes one of the six principal organs of the United Nations and it is responsible for the coordination of the economic, social and related work of 14 UN specialized agencies, its functional commissions and five regional commissions...

  • United Nations Secretariat
    United Nations Secretariat
    The United Nations Secretariat is one of the five principal organs of the United Nations and it is headed by the United Nations Secretary-General, assisted by a staff of international civil servants worldwide. It provides studies, information, and facilities needed by United Nations bodies for...

  • United Nations Trusteeship Council
    United Nations Trusteeship Council
    The United Nations Trusteeship Council, one of the principal organs of the United Nations, was established to help ensure that trust territories were administered in the best interests of their inhabitants and of international peace and security...

  • World citizen
    World citizen
    World citizen has a variety of similar meanings, often referring to a person who disapproves of traditional geopolitical divisions derived from national citizenship....


Further reading

  • Rosenne S, Rosenne's the world court: what it is and how it works 6th ed (Leiden: Martinus Nijhoff, 2003).
  • Decisions of the World Court Relevant to the UNCLOS (2010) and Contents & Indexes dedicated to Former ICJ President Stephen M. Schwebel
    Stephen M. Schwebel
    Stephen Myron Schwebel is an American jurist and expert on international law. He is well known for his separate and dissenting opinions as a Judge of the International Court of Justice 1981-2000 and for his involvement in many cases of the ICSID and Permanent Court of Arbitration.-Biography:Judge...


External links