International Court of Justice ICJ

International Court of Justice ICJ

What is the International Court of Justice?

The International Court of Justice (ICJ), also called the World’s Court, is one of the six main organs of the United Nations (UN). It Settles disputes between states and gives advisory opinions on issues of international law referred to by the United Nations. Its opinion and the decision serves as a source of international law.

Permanent Court of International Justice (PCIJ)

The ICJ is the successor to the Permanent Court of International Justice (PCIJ), which was established by the League of Nations in 1920. After the Second World War, both the League and the PCIJ was replaced by the UN and the ICJ, respectively. ICJ Statute draws heavily from its predecessor, and the final decision remains in force. All UN members are party to the Statute of the ICJ.

Permanent Court of International Justice (PCIJ) - ICJ

The ICJ is composed of a panel of 15 judges elected by the General Assembly and the Security Council for a term of nine years. The court sitting in the Peace Palace in The Hague, Netherlands, making it the only major UN organs not located in New York City.

The official working languages are English and French.

History of International Court of Justice

The permanent institution was first established with the aim of settling international disputes as to the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA), which was created by the Hague Peace Conference of 1899. Initiated by the Russian Czar Nicholas II, a conference involving all the major world powers, as well as some smaller countries, resulting in the first multilateral agreement relating to the conduct of war. These include the Convention for the Pacific Settlement International, which defined institutional and procedural framework for the arbitration process, which will take place in The Hague, Netherlands.

Registry court-arbitrator

Although the process will be supported by a permanent bureau whose functions will be equivalent to the secretariat or registry court-arbitrator will be appointed by the disputing countries from a larger pool of people provided by each member of the Convention. PCA was founded in 1900 and began the process in 1902.

The Second Hague Peace Conference in 1907, involving the majority of sovereign states in the world, revising and improved regulations governing the arbitration process before the PCA.

During this conference, the United States, Britain, and Germany submitted a joint proposal for a permanent court that will serve a full-time judge. As delegates could not agree on how judges would be selected, it is temporarily suspended pending an agreement to be adopted at a later convention.

Central American Court of Justice,

Hague Peace Conference, and the ideas that emerge from it, influenced the creation of the Central American Court of Justice, which was founded in 1908 as one of the bodies of the earliest regional court. The plans and proposals which were made between 1911 and 1919 for the establishment of an international judicial tribunal of the world, which will not be realized in the formation of a new international system after the First World War.


Establishment of the International Criminal Court After the peak of activity in 1933, PCIJ began to decline in construction due to the growing international tensions and isolationism that characterized the era. Effectively ending the Court due to Second World War , which held public sessions in December 1939 and issued a final order in February 1940.

British-led panel of legal experts

In 1942 the US and the UK together expressed support for building or rebuilding an international tribunal after the war, and on in 1943, the British-led panel of legal experts from around the world, the “Inter-Allied Committee”, to discuss the issue.

The 1944 report recommends that: A new international court should be based on that of the PCIJ; The new court should retain jurisdiction advisors; The Acceptance of the new court’s jurisdiction should be voluntary by the member nations;

Principle of the sovereign equality

Courts should only deal with judicial matters and not political Several months later, a large conference of Allied-China, the Soviet Union, Britain, and the United States issued a joint declaration recognizes the need to “build on the practical earliest an international organization that is common, based on the principle of the sovereign equality of all States which love peace, and is open to membership for all the nations irrespective of the nations size or status to maintain world peace and security

Following the Allied Conference at Dumbarton Oaks, United States published a proposal in October 1944 called for the establishment of an intergovernmental organization that would include an international court.

The meeting was convened in Washington, DC in April 1945, involving 44 legal experts from around the world to draft a law for the court filed.
San Francisco Conference

Draft legislation that is substantially similar to PCIJ, and it questioned whether a new trial should even be made. During the San Francisco Conference, which took place from 25 April to 26 June 1945 and involving 50 countries, it was decided that a completely new court should be established as a new UN main organ.

Integral part of the UN Charter

 The tribunal will constitute an integral part of the UN Charter, which, in order to maintain continuity, expressly states that the Statute of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) is based on that of the PCIJ. As a result, PCIJ held its last meeting in October 1945 and decided to transfer the archive to his successor, which will take his place at the Peace Paradise.

The judges PCIJ all resigned on January 31, 1946, with the election of the first members of the ICJ take place the following February at the First Session of the UN General Assembly and the Security Council. In April 1946, PCIJ was formally dissolved in the first meeting of ICJ by elected President José Gustavo Guerrero of El Salvador, who served as the last president of the PCIJ.

The first case was delivered in May 1947 by the United Kingdom against Albania on the incident in the Corfu Channel.


The ICJ is composed of fifteen judges who are elected for a term of nine years by the UN General Assembly and the UN Security Council from a list of persons nominated by the nations. The electoral process provided for in Article 4-19 of the ICJ Statute. Selection staggered, with five judges are elected every three years to ensure continuity in court. Should a judge die in office, the general practice for selecting judges in the special election to complete the term.

History of International Court of Justice - ICJ

Main forms of civilization and principal legal systems all over the world

Not more than one judge must belong to the same country. According to Article 9, the membership of the court is supposed to represent the “main forms of civilization and principal legal systems all over the world”.

Basically, that means the common law, civil law and socialist law (now post-communist law).
Five seats for Western nations, three for African nations

There would be informal understandings for distribution of seats by geographical area so there will be five seats for Western nations, three for African nations(including the judges of civil law francophone, one Anglophone common law and one Arab), two for Eastern nations European-state, three for Asian nations and two for Latin America and the Caribbean nations, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council (France, the Soviet Union, China, Britain, and the United States) have always had judges who serve, thus occupying three seats Western, one Asian seat and one seat Eastern Europe.

UN Security Council

The exception has been China does not have a court judge in 1967-1985, during which time it did not nominate a candidate, and a British judge Sir Christopher Greenwood withdrawn as a candidate for election to a second term of nine years on the bench in 2017, without leaving a judge of the British court. Greenwood has been endorsed by the UN Security Council but failed to gain a majority in the UN General Assembly.

A Judge from India Dalveer Bhandari instead took a seat.

Lawyers with sufficient competence in international law

Article 6 of the Statute that all judges should be “elected regardless of their nationality among people of high moral character” who is well qualified for the highest judicial offices in their home countries or known as lawyers with sufficient competence in international law. judicial independence is specifically regulated in Article 16-18. ICJ judges are not able to hold any other post or to act as an advisor.

In practice, members of the court have their own interpretation of these rules and allow them to engage in outside arbitration and hold professional posts as long as there is no conflict of interest. A judge may be dismissed only by a unanimous vote of the other members of the court. Despite these provisions, the independence of ICJ judges has been questioned.

For example, for the case of Nicaragua, the United States issued a communiqué indicating that it could not present sensitive material to the court because of the presence of judges from the Soviet bloc.

The judge may give an assessment together or separately give their own opinion. The decision and the advisory opinion by the majority, and, in the case of the same division, the voice of the president be decisive, which occurred in the Legality of Use by a State of Nuclear Weapons in Armed Conflict (Opinion requested by WHO), [1996] ICJ Reports 66. The judge also can provide a separate dissent.

Judge ad hoc

Article 31 of the law lays down a procedure whereby ad hoc judges sit on contentious cases in court. This system allows any party to controversial cases (if otherwise not have one of the people that the party sat in court) to select one additional person to sit as a judge in that case alone. It is thus possible that as many as seventeen judges may sit in one case.

jurisdiction of the courts

This system may seem strange when compared to the district court, but the goal is to encourage countries to submit a case. For example, if a state knows that it will have a court officer to participate in the deliberation and offer other judges local knowledge and understanding of the perspective of the state, maybe more willing to submit to the jurisdiction of the courts.

Although this system does not sit well with the judicial nature of the body, usually of little practical consequence. Ad hoc judges in ICJ usually (but not always) vote in favor of their designated country and thus cancel each other out

As stated in Article 93 of the UN Charter, all 193 UN members are automatically party statutes of the court. The non-UN members may also become parties to the statutes of the court under Article 93 (2) procedure. For example, before becoming a UN member state, Switzerland had used this procedure in 1948 to become a party, and Nauru became a party later in 1988. After the state is a party to the statutes of the court, it is entitled to participate in the cases in court. However, being a party to the law does not automatically grant the ICJ jurisdiction over disputes involving parties. Jurisdiction issues in ICJ are of 3 types: issues, incidental jurisdiction, and advisory opinion

Issues between States

In disputed cases (one nation does not accept the judgment of the other as it involves interests of itself too), ICJ produces a binding ruling between states that agree to submit to the court ruling. Only states may be parties in contentious cases. Individuals, companies, other private parties, component parts of a federal state, NGOs, the UN organs, are excluded from direct participation in cases although the ICJ may receive information of public international organizations.

Who performs non-interest does not preclude the state from being subject to the process if the state brought the case against the other.

For example, the state may, in the case of “diplomatic protection”, bring a case in ICJ on behalf of one of its nationals or companies.
Incidental jurisdiction

Until the rendering of a final judgment, the court has competence for provisional measures in order to protect the rights of parties to the dispute. One or both parties to the dispute may submit the ICJ to issue interim measures. In the Frontier Dispute case, both parties to the dispute, Burkina Faso and Mali, apply to the court to indicate provisional measures. Incidental jurisdiction of the courts or derived from Article 41 of the Statute. As a final judgment, order interim measures binding on state courts disputing parties. ICJ has the competence to indicate provisional measures only if the jurisdiction prima facie satisfied.

Advisory opinion

Advisory is a function of the court that is open only to specified agencies and United Nations bodies. The UN Charter gives the General Assembly or the Security Council the power to ask the court to issue an advisory opinion on any legal question. Other organs of the United Nations rather than the General Assembly and Security Council can not ask the opinion of the ICJ advisory unless the General Assembly of their authority.

Lawyers with sufficient competence in international law for ICJ

Other organs of the United Nations had sought a court adviser on matters falling within the scope of their activities in ICJ. On receiving the request, the court ruled countries and organizations might provide useful information and gives them an opportunity to present written or oral statements.

The advisory opinion is intended as a means by which UN agencies could seek relief in the courts to decide legal issues complex that may fall under their respective mandates.
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