What is the International Court of Justice? The Role and Activities of the ICJ


when states disagree on where their

border is when states contest islands or

a maritime zone when one state considers

that another has violated a treaty or

other rule of international law and when

the UN or one of its agencies needs an

opinion on a legal issue they can turn

to the International Court of Justice


the International Court of Justice or

ICJ has its seat in the Netherlands at

the peace palace in the hague like the

General Assembly and the Security

Council the court is what's known as a

principle organ of the United Nations

and is the only one not to have its seat

in New York the ICJ is the principle

judicial organ of the UN and the world's

highest international court the court

has existed since 1946 it's two official

languages are English and French its

founding document the statute is an

integral part of the charter of the

United Nations forgives us for all UN

member states therefore automatically

recognize the existence of the court and

can call on its services the ICJ is the

successor of another court created in

1922 by the League of Nations the

permanent Court of international justice

between 1922 and 1940 the permanent

court handled around 60 cases it was

dissolved after the Second World War

the ICJ succeeded the permanent Court on

the 18th of April 1946 inheriting not

only its statute but also its

jurisprudence and traditions like its

predecessor the International Court of

Justice has two roles the first is to

decide disputes between states these are

known as contentious cases

the code second role is to respond to

legal questions submitted to it by the

General Assembly the Security Council

and other UN organs or agencies these

cases are known as advisory proceedings

since the court was established it's

dealt with a large number of cases

the ICJ is not a criminal court it does

not try individuals only disputes

between states can be submitted to it

the court consists of 15 judges they're

elected for nine years by the General

Assembly and the Security Council five

posts are renewed every three years

judges may be re-elected mr. Mohammed

Benina mr. James James Richard Crawford

miss Joni Donohue

mr. Kirill Kevorkian and mr. Patrick

Lipton Robinson have been elected to the

International Court of Justice for a

term of office of nine years beginning

on 6 February to it the members of the

court must all be from a different

country they do not represent their

countries they are independent judges


I solemnly declare that I will perform

my duties and exercise my powers as

George honorably faithfully impartially

and conscientiously

the composition of the court reflects

the following geographical balance three

seats on the bench are occupied by

African judges two seats are occupied by

judges from Latin America and the

Caribbean three are occupied by Asian

judges five by judges from Western

Europe and other western states and two

by judges from Eastern Europe although

no country is entitled to a seat in

practice the court has always included

one judge from each of the five

permanent members of the Security

Council if the court does not have a

judge of the nationality of the state's

parties to a particular case those

states can each choose what's known as a

judge at hoc these judges can be of any

nationality and have exactly the same

rights and duties as elected judges

every three years the court elects its

president and vice president the

president chairs all sittings of the

court he or she directs its work and

supervises its administration

each year the president presents a

report on the activities of the ICJ to

the General Assembly in New York a

manifesto for a cool he do suit you can

report the court is administratively

independent it's the only principal

organ of the United Nations that is not

assisted by the UN Secretariat the

judges are assisted by a registrar

elected by the court for a renewable

term of seven years the Registrar is the

head of the court Secretariat its

registry whose staff members are

recruited from all over the world the

registrar performs judicial diplomatic

and administrative functions the courts

first role is to judge legal disputes

between states these contentious cases

represent 80% of its work in the past

contentious cases have often related to

border disputes maritime delimitation

and diplomatic protection but they also

increasingly concern issues such as

humanitarian law and Bera mental law the

use of armed force and the

responsibility of states the court's

jurisdiction is general it may consider

any issue of international law all UN

member states are entitled to bring

contentious proceedings before the court

other non-member States can also access

the court subject to certain conditions

the court's jurisdiction

thus extends throughout the world since

1946 a large number of states have

appeared before the ICJ in contentious


states are sovereign they're free to

choose how to resolve their disputes the

court can therefore only hear a case if

the states involved have freely

consented to having the case referred to

it in most instances states appear

before the court on the basis of an

international treaty


once the court has been seized the

proceedings take place in two phases

first the states submit their arguments

evidence and submissions in writing then

their representatives and lawyers

deliver oral arguments before the court

during hearings Costa Rica request the

court to dismiss all Nicaragua's claims

in this proceeding

Nicaragua requests from the court to a

dismiss and rejected the requests and

submissions of the Republic of Costa

Rica the court then withdraws to begin

its deliberation its deliberations are


all questions are decided by a majority

of the judges present on average the

courts deliberations lasts between four

and six months each judgment is

delivered in the courts two official

languages and reproduced in several

sealed copies one of which is sent to

each of the state's concerned

judgments are read out of the public

sitting they conclude with an operative

part in which the court gives its

decision in respect of each of the

points at issue for these reasons the

court won by 14 votes - to reject the

preliminary objection raised by the

motive Lagoon

berkutov were called to do

rachelle exception criminals all

judgments of the court are final and

without appeal it is to be noted that by

coming before the court of their own

volition states at the same time assume

a commitment to comply with its

decisions all of which are binding on

the parties virtually all the judgments

of the court have been implemented if a

state refuses to abide by a decision of

the court the opposing state may have

recourse to the Security Council which

may and the article 94 of the charter of

the United Nations make recommendations

or decide upon measures to be taken to

give effect to the judgment given the

great legal moral and diplomatic

authority with which decisions of the

court are invested it is however

extremely rare for this to happen the

code second role is to respond to any

legal questions put to it by certain UN

organs and agencies this procedure

culminates in advisory opinions since

1946 the court has rendered a number of

opinions on questions which have

sometimes received wide media coverage

the majority of these opinions have been

requested by the General Assembly

the advisory opinion issued by the court

in 2004 on the legal consequences of the

construction of a wall in the occupied

Palestinian territory was one of the

most high-profile in its history states

from across the globe were invited to

participate in the proceedings which

lasted just under seven months should

consider what further action is required

to bring to an unlock judgments advisory

opinions given by the court are not

binding per se it is for the United

Nations organs or specialized agencies

having requested an opinion to follow up

on them as they see fit

whatever the case thanks to the courts

legal and moral authority its opinions

carry great weight

moreover the consideration given to the

courts advisory opinions by states and

international organizations in their

legal practice fosters the development

of international law


continuing the work started by the

permanent Court of international justice

in 1922 the ICJ's decisions have

significance which goes beyond just the

states and organizations directly

involved in the cases on very many

occasions and on all continents the

court has helped to defuse crises to

normalize relations between states and

to restart deadlock negotiations either

through the settlement of disputes by

judicial means or by stating the law in

respect of a particular question


as the principle judicial organ of the

United Nations the court is an important

cog in the International mechanism for

promoting and keeping peace to that end

the court very regularly hosts visits by

heads of state and dignitaries

the court performs its functions with

great efficiency it can make an urgent

order in a matter of days or weeks and

give an advisory opinion within a few

months it settles the large majority of

the highly complex contentious cases

submitted to it in under five years the

courts budget accounts for less than 1%

of the regular budget of the United

Nations the court is a judicial

institution unique in the world through

its judgments opinions and orders it

lends its support to the United Nations

in achieving its primary purposes which

are to maintain and strengthen

international peace and security

of course the court cannot by itself

prevent States from resorting to force

but recognized by all members of the

United Nations it now more than ever

serve them as an invaluable instrument

promoting peace that is at their