International Court of Justice

The International Court of Justice (ICJ), commonly referred to as the World Court, is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations. Established in 1945 by the United Nations Charter, the ICJ is responsible for settling legal disputes between states and providing advisory opinions on legal questions referred to it by authorised international bodies.

Composition: The ICJ consists of 15 judges who are elected by the United Nations General Assembly and the Security Council for nine-year terms. The judges are chosen from different countries to ensure a representation of various legal systems and geographic regions. The Court's President is elected among the judges and serves a three-year term.

Jurisdiction: The ICJ has jurisdiction over two main types of cases: contentious cases and advisory proceedings. Contentious cases involve disputes between states that have consented to the Court's jurisdiction. States may submit a case to the ICJ voluntarily or when there is a treaty or agreement specifying the Court as the forum for dispute resolution. Advisory proceedings occur when authorised international organisations or UN bodies seek non-binding advisory opinions from the Court on legal questions.

Settlement of disputes: The ICJ promotes the peaceful settlement of disputes between states. It encourages parties to seek negotiations and other peaceful means before resorting to the Court. The Court may also suggest alternative methods of settlement to the parties involved. If a case proceeds to the ICJ, its judgments are binding on the parties, and states are obligated to comply with the Court's decisions.

Sources of law: The ICJ applies international law in its decisions. It derives its authority from international conventions, customary international law, general principles of law recognised by civilised nations, and the teachings of highly qualified publicists. The Court's decisions contribute to the development and interpretation of international law, setting precedents for future cases.

Adjudicatory process: The ICJ follows a structured adjudicatory process, which includes written and oral pleadings by the parties, the submission of evidence and legal arguments, and the deliberation of the judges. The Court issues its judgments, which are decisions on the merits of the case, and orders, which address procedural matters.

Independence and impartiality: The ICJ operates independently and impartially, ensuring that judges exercise their functions without favour or bias. Judges must possess high moral character, expertise in international law, and independence from their respective governments.

The International Court of Justice plays a crucial role in promoting the peaceful settlement of international disputes and upholding the rule of law at the global level. Through its decisions, the Court contributes to the development and clarification of international law, helping to maintain international peace and security and resolve legal controversies between states.
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