The International Court of Justice (ICJ) serves as the principal judicial body
of the United Nations, reflecting the global community's commitment to peaceful
resolution of disputes. Dating back to the establishment of the UN, the ICJ's
statute is annexed to the organization's charter, making it an integral part of
the UN's framework. As a world court, the ICJ provides states with a nonviolent
alternative to settling their conflicts, contrasting the tumultuous pre-UN era
marked by frequent recourse to armed conflicts.
The ICJ operates under the
recognition that only by adhering to the principles of international law and the
sovereign equality of all UN members can sustainable peace and security be
upheld. It is important to highlight, however, that the ICJ's jurisdiction in
contentious disputes between states is not automatic but contingent upon the
consent of the involved parties.
The ICJ's composition comprises fifteen judges elected for nine-year terms,
ensuring equitable geographical representation among the UN member states. The
selection process for the ICJ judges involves a concurrent vote in both the UN
General Assembly and the Security Council, with candidates needing to secure an
absolute majority in both bodies. While the ICJ lacks compulsory jurisdiction,
which means its decisions are legally binding only if the involved states
willingly submit to its authority, this consent-based approach has led to the
successful settlement of numerous disputes throughout history.
For instance, a
noteworthy case that highlights the ICJ's impact is the Aerial Incident of 27
July 1955 (United States of America v. Union of Soviet Socialist Republics). In
this case, both superpowers voluntarily accepted the ICJ's jurisdiction, leading
to a resolution that helped deescalate tensions between the two nations during
the Cold War.
The International Court of Justice (ICJ), commonly known as the World Court, is
an eminent international judicial organ established by the United Nations
Charter. Its primary mission is to resolve legal disputes between sovereign
States, promoting peace and fostering justice. It accomplishes this through
three distinct methods of obtaining jurisdiction, each tailored to address
specific categories of disputes.
The first method, an adhoc agreement, empowers States parties engaged in a
dispute to voluntarily refer their legal contestation to the ICJ, leveraging the
court's impartiality and expertise to reach a fair and binding resolution. This
reflects the global commitment to resolving conflicts through peaceful and legal
Second, states have the option to study and submit an optional clause
declaration to the UN Secretary General, a significant decision that carries
several potential benefits. By doing so, states demonstrate their willingness to
engage in peaceful settlements of disputes and uphold the principles of
Submitting an optional clause declaration not only reinforces
the state's commitment to resolving conflicts through legal means but also
enhances their engagement with the ICJ, an esteemed international judicial body
responsible for interpreting and applying international law. Third, several
global agreements have a feature known as "compromissory clauses."
let countries in disagreement about the meaning or use of parts of the agreement
ask the ICJ for help. One of the disputing countries gives the ICJ the job of
settling the argument. Some conventions allow States to "opt out" of such
When two states have a disagreement and the ICJ settles it, that decision is
final. It's like the final word for those two parties. For other states though,
this decision doesn't count. But, if the ICJ talks about usual law or treaty law
in their judgment, many states see this as an "official" understanding of
international law. The ICJ can also give advice. The UN Security Council and UN
General Assembly can ask for their opinion on legal issues. The UN General
Assembly can even let other UN groups or specialized agencies ask the ICJ for
advice on legal problems they're dealing with.
The ICJ, or International Court of Justice, is based in The Hague, in The
Netherlands. Judges at the ICJ hold their posts for nine years. The ICJ's role
revolves around stating the law in place, not creating it. Even when defining
the breadth and noting the general direction of the law, the court's function
remains intact. It must answer to any legal disputes presented, using
international law. The ICJ considers the circumstances but keeps within its
mandate. However, the ICJ can only settle disputes if the involved nations agree
to its jurisdiction.
There were contentious issues the ICJ had to deal with. The Military and
Paramilitary Activities in and against Nicaragua was one such case. In the Pan
Am case, how the ICJ interacts with the Security Council and their distinct
powers, was pondered over by the ICJ. In the debate on the Competence of the
General Assembly for the Admission of a State to the United Nations, it was
established by the ICJ that the General Assembly can't make someone a member
without the Security Council's recommendation.
The International Court lacks a complete separation of powers, as permanent
members of the Security Council possess the authority to veto the enforcement of
cases, even those to which they have previously agreed. Since the jurisdiction
of the court is not inherently binding, instances of aggression are often
brought before the Security Council, which may address them through resolutions
and other means. Consequently, there is a possibility that permanent members of
the Security Council can avoid legal responsibility as raised by the
International Court of Justice, as exemplified in the case of Nicaragua v.
Critics have accused the court of exhibiting judicial restraint, as its rulings
frequently involve the dismissal of parties' submissions on jurisdictional
grounds without fully resolving the underlying disputes between them.
The International Court of Justice (ICJ), communicates in English and French.
It's built upon supports from an organization called The Registry. The Court
itself is made up of 15 judges. They hail from different regions: three from
Africa, two with roots from Latin America and the Caribbean, another three from
Asia, five from Western Europe and other assorted countries, and a pair from
The Court's President and Vice-President are chosen every three years through a
secret ballot by the Court's Members. The election typically takes place when
the newly elected Members of the Court begin their terms or shortly thereafter.
An absolute majority is required, and there are no nationality-based conditions.
Both the President and Vice-President can be re-elected.
The President holds the role of presiding over all Court meetings and is
responsible for directing the Court's activities and overseeing its
administration. This is done with support from a Budgetary and Administrative
Committee and various other committees, all comprised of Court Members. During
deliberations, the President possesses a casting vote in case of a tie.
While residing in The Hague, the President holds precedence over the dean of the
diplomatic corps. In addition to an annual salary, the President receives a
special supplementary allowance of US$25,000 per annum.
The Vice-President steps in when the President is absent, unable to perform
duties, or when there's a vacancy in the presidency. They receive a daily
allowance for carrying out this role. In the absence of the Vice-President, the
senior judge takes on these responsibilities.
On February 8, 2021, Judge Joan E. Donoghue from the United States of America
was elected as President, and Judge Kirill Gevorgian from the Russian Federation
was elected as Vice-President of the ICJ.
The World Court, also known as the International Court of Justice (ICJ), has its
fair share of restrictions. Many of these restrictions are due to the way it's
set up, the resources it has available, and the sphere of its authority.
Shockingly, it can't take individuals to trial for crimes of war or horrific
acts against people. It lacks any form of prosecution body. Also, it doesn't
function as the top court for a country or an ultimate court for people.
Although it can determine the legitimacy of dispute resolution awards, it only
reacts to cases brought forth and doesn't act on its own.
It can't look into
actions by countries or pass rulings without agreement from the countries
implicated. The court's power is only yielded when countries voluntarily agree
to it. It doesn't have the power to require compliance. Plus, it doesn't have
fully separate authority roles since the Security Council's permanent members
can reject to enforce a case, even if they had previously agreed to ICJ rulings.