International Court of Justice Thesis

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¶ … Relevance and Effective of the International Court of Justice Today

In an increasingly globalized environment, there is a real need for an international judicial body that can provide the international community with legal advice and guidance, as well as to resolve legal disputes of all sorts between nations to prevent them from becoming points of contention that may result in armed conflict. For this purpose, the United Nations created the International Court of Justice which is authorized to perform these functions as well as certain others which form the focus of this analysis. In this regard, this paper provides a review of the relevant peer-reviewed, scholarly and organizational literature to determine the precise purpose of the International Court of Justice, its authority and powers, sources of law and precedent relied upon by the Court, recent trends in the exercise of its authority and powers, and an analysis of the Court's effectiveness as viewed by critics and proponents alike. A summary of the research and important findings are presented in the conclusion.

Review and Analysis

Background and Overview.

The International Court of Justice is located at the Hague, Netherlands.

The headquarters of the International Court of Justice are located in the same building that was occupied by its predecessor, the Permanent Court of International Justice, which occupied the Peace Palace from 1922 until the formation of the current version in 1946.

The original members of the International Court of Justice were elected by the UN's General Assembly and the Security Council in February 1946.

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According to Nash (1999), "The International Court of Justice in the Hague had an extraordinary and unlikely beginning. Few can realize, even now, that it was the brainchild of Tsar Nicholas II, the murdered Tsar of Ekaterinburg, the weak and vacillating Tsar of the First World War."

Thesis on International Court of Justice Assignment

The International Court of Justice convened for the first time at the Peace Palace in the Hague on April 1, 1946 (see Figure 1 below), with the original president being Judge Guerrero and Judge Basdevant as vice-president.

The International Court of Justice's Web site notes that, "Of the six principal organs of the United Nations, it is the only one not located in New York (United States of America)."

According to the UN's Department of Information, "The [UN] Charter established six principal organs of the United Nations: the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council, the Trusteeship Council, the International Court of Justice, and the Secretariat.

The International Court of Justice is not only the principal judicial organ of the United Nations pursuant to Article 92 of the UN Charter, though, as it is also an autonomous adjudicative body that is tasked with of applying international law to such disputes between states as are brought before it pursuant to Article 38 of its Statute.

According to Black's Law Dictionary (1990), the International Court of Justice (hereinafter alternative the "ICJ" or "the Court," but sometimes also called the "World Court"

) is the judicial arm of the United Nations (UN).

The ICJ is comprised of 15 judges, with the judges who sit on the ICJ being elected by the United Nations General Assembly and the Security Council with 9-year terms of office.

One-third of the seats on the Court become vacant every 3 years, with the most recent elections to fill such vacancies being held on November 7, 2005.

On February 6, 2006 the newly formed Court elected a new president and vice president for terms of 3 years. As of that date, the Court was comprised of the following judges in the capacities indicated:

1. President: Rosalyn Higgins (United Kingdom);

2. Vice-President: Awn Shawkat Al-Khasawneh (Jordan);

3. Judges: Raymond Ranjeva (Madagascar), Shi Jiuyong (China), Abdul G. Koroma (Sierra Leone), Gonzalo Parra-Aranguren (Venezuela), Thomas Buergenthal (United States of America), Hisashi Owada (Japan), Bruno Simma (Germany), Peter Tomka (Slovakia), Ronny Abraham (France), Kenneth Keith (New Zealand), Bernardo Sepulveda-Amor (Mexico), Mohamed Bennouna (Morocco) and Leonid Skotnikov (Russian Federation).

International Court of Justice judges also enjoy diplomatic privileges and immunities when they are exercising their official responsibilities.

The Court is also assisted in the performance of its various duties by an administrative organ, the ICJ's Registry, and has two official languages, French and English.

Figure 1. The UCJ's Headquarters, Peace Palace at the Hague, Netherlands.


In his early work on the Court, Lissitzyn (1951) advises, "The framers of the Charter of the United Nations, like those of the Covenant of the League of Nations, have provided for an agency whose principal function is to apply legal techniques in the resolution of international controversies and problems. This agency is the International Court of Justice, which is described in the Charter as one of 'the principal organs' and as 'the principal judicial organ' of the United Nations (Article 7 [1] and Article 92)."

Further, Article 9 of the Statute of the International Court of Justice stipulates that in the body of the Court "as a whole," that "representation of the main forms of civilization and of the principal legal systems of the world should be assured."

The Court has the requisite jurisdiction to provide advisory opinions on those issues relating to law (these are known as advisory proceedings) and the construction of international treaties (there are known as contentious cases)

; however, this jurisdiction is limited to only those in cases where such opinions are requested by the UN's General Assembly, the Security Council or any other international body that is authorized by the General Assembly to request such opinions from the Court.

In addition, Black's notes that the Court "has jurisdiction, also, to settle legal disputes between nations when voluntarily submitted to it. Its judgments may be enforced by the Security Council. Its jurisdiction and powers are defined by statute, to which all member states of the UN are parties."

According to the UN's Department of Public Information, "The Court is open to all states that are parties to its Statute, which include all members of the United Nations. Only states may be parties in contentious cases before the Court and submit disputes to it. The Court is not open to private persons and entities or international organizations."

The Court has competent jurisdiction to resolve disputes only in those cases where the affected states have voluntarily accepted its jurisdiction in one or more of the following ways:

1. By entering into a special agreement to submit the dispute to the Court;

2. By virtue of a jurisdictional clause, i.e., typically, when they are parties to a treaty containing a provision whereby, in the event of a dispute of a given type or disagreement over the interpretation or application of the treaty, one of them may refer the dispute to the Court;

3. Through the reciprocal effect of declarations made by them under the Statute whereby each has accepted the jurisdiction of the Court as compulsory in the event of a dispute with another State having made a similar declaration. A number of these declarations, which must be deposited with the United Nations Secretary-General, contain reservations excluding certain categories of dispute.

According to Ginsburg and Mcadams (2004), instead of being a court of general jurisdiction that is responsible for the resolution of all types of international disputes, jurisdiction of the Court is for all practical purposes voluntary in nature. Pursuant to Article 36 of the Statute of the ICJ, the court has jurisdiction over:

1. Cases referred to it specifically by the parties by special agreement;

2. Cases provided for in treaties and conventions, including the UN Charter; and,

3. Cases between parties that have submitted to compulsory jurisdiction of the court under the so-called "Optional Clause" of Article 36(2).

The UN's Department of Public Information advises, that, "The Court normally sits in plenary session, but may form smaller units called chambers if the parties so request. Judgments given by chambers are considered as rendered by the full Court. The Court also has a Chamber for Environmental Matters and forms annually a Chamber of Summary Procedure."

Ordinarily, the ICJ fulfils its duties as a full Court, defined by the ICJ as a quorum of at least nine judges, not including judges ad hoc); however, in some cases and as noted above, it may also form permanent or temporary chambers of which are three types as follows:

1. The Chamber of Summary Procedure, comprising five judges, including the President and Vice-President, and two substitutes, which the Court is required by Article 29 of the Statute to form annually with a view to the speedy dispatch of business;

2. Any chamber, comprising at least three judges, that the Court may form pursuant to Article 26, paragraph 1, of the Statute to deal with certain categories of cases, such as labor or communications; and,

3. Any chamber that the Court may form pursuant to Article 26, paragraph 2, of the Statute to deal with a particular case, after formally consulting the parties regarding the number of its members - and informally regarding… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "International Court of Justice" Thesis in a Bibliography:

APA Style

International Court of Justice.  (2009, April 14).  Retrieved May 26, 2020, from

MLA Format

"International Court of Justice."  14 April 2009.  Web.  26 May 2020. <>.

Chicago Style

"International Court of Justice."  April 14, 2009.  Accessed May 26, 2020.