Certain Expenses Case [International Court Of Justice Advisory Opinion 1962 ICJ 151]
In 1950, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the uniting for peace
resolution, which authorized the general assembly to maintain peace of the
United Nations if the Security Council failed to do so, pursuant to their
resolution, the general assembly established the united nations emergency force
(UNEF) to oversee the decision of Israel, Great Britain and France to terminate
a conflict in Egypt.
The UNEF consisted of troops from various United Nations members countries;
certain countries regarded the UNEF as the violation of the United Nations
charter and refused to pay for the cost of the UNEF. The General Assembly
requested an advisory opinion from the international court of justice on whether
the expenses for the UNEF were legal.
In the certain expenses cases the legality of the uniting for peace resolution
was tested, to a degree. In early 1960's some members refused to pay their
contribution to the expenses of two peace keeping operations.
In light of refusal to pay the assembly sought an advisory opinion from the
court, as to whether the expenditure authorized by the assembly was expenses of
the organization within the meaning of Article 17(e) of the charter.
The majority divided by nine of five that they were such expenses and that UN
members did have as obligation to pay.
In the course of the judgment, the majority discusses the respective roles and
powers of the Security Council and the general assembly with respect of
international peace and security.
However that of the nine majority judges four published separate opinions
expressing disagreement with that part of the judgment. Only 5 out of 14 judges
positively ruled that the general assembly had the power to recommend
The court gives the following advisory opinion.
It has been argued before the Court that a category of expenditures, in
particular those arising from operations in the maintenance of international
peace and security, are not expenditures of the organization within the meaning
of Article 17, paragraph 2. of the charter, to the extent they are subject to be
resolved exclusively by the Security Council and more specifically through
arguments negotiated under article 43 of the charter.
The reasoning is based in part on the view that when it comes to maintaining
international peace and security, only the Security Council has the authority to
decide on action in this regard. Since the powers of the General Assembly are
limited to discussions, reflections, studies and recommendations, it is further
argued that it cannot impose any obligation to pay the costs resulting from the
implementation of its recommendation.
This reasoning leads to an examination of the respective tasks of the General
Assembly and the Security Council within the framework of the Charter, in
particular with regard to the maintenance of international peace and security.
The court in its advisory opinion of 20 July 1962 replied in the affirmative
that this expenditure were expenses of the Unites Nations. The court pointed out
that under Article 17 Para of the charter, the expenses of the organization
are the amounts paid out to defray the cost of carrying out the purpose of the
After reviewing the cost authorization decisions in question, the court
concluded that they were made. The Court also analyzed the main argument made
against the conclusion that these costs should be treated as "organizational
Relevance of the decision analyzing UN charter
The United Nations editions of the 1962 Advisory Opinion of the International
Court of Justice address a relatively limited legal question. The court was
asked to decide whether the expenses approved by the United Nations General
Assembly in relation to peacekeeping missions are "organizational expenses"
within the meaning of Article 17 (2) of the United Nations Charter.
In solving your question, the tribunal addresses some important issues of
international law and the law of international organizations, including the
doctrine of implied powers, the interpretation of the treaty to challenge the UN
Charter, the ultravirus doctrine and the relationship of the courts with other
The declaration also has implications for the UN General Assembly, including its
role in the collective security system, its budgetary powers, and its relations
with the UN Security Council. The chapter not only examines the court's
reasoning, but also looks at the broader implications of the case for
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