International Court of Justice UPSC
The International Court of Justice is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations. Its seat is at the Peace Palace in The Hague (Netherlands). It began work in 1946, when it replaced the Permanent Court of International Justice which had functioned in the Peace Palace since 1922. It operates under a Statute largely similar to that of its predecessor, which is an integral part of the Charter of the United Nations.
Functions of the Court
The Court has a dual role: to settle in accordance with international law the legal disputes submitted to it by States, and to give advisory opinions on legal questions referred to it by duly authorized international organs and agencies.
The Court is composed of 15 judges elected to nine-year terms of office by the United Nations General Assembly and Security Council sitting independently of each other. It may not include more than one judge of any nationality. Elections are held every three years for one-third of the seats, and retiring judges may be re-elected. The Members of the Court do not represent their governments but are independent magistrates. The judges must possess the qualifications required in their respective countries for appointment to the highest judicial offices, or be jurists of recognized competence in international law. The composition of the Court has also to reflect the main forms of civilization and the principal legal systems of the world. When the Court does not include a judge possessing the nationality of a State party to a case, that State may appoint person to sit as a judge ad hoc for the purpose of the case.
Contentious cases between States The Parties
Only States may apply to and appear before the Court. The Member States of the United Nations (at present numbering 191) are so entitled.
The advisory procedure of the Court is open solely to international organizations. The only bodies at present authorized to request advisory opinions of the Court are five organs of the United Nations and 16 specialized agencies of the United Nations family. On receiving a request, the Court decides which States and organizations might provide useful information and gives them an opportunity of presenting written or oral statements. The Court’s advisory procedure is otherwise modeled on that for contentious proceedings, and the sources of applicable law are the same. In principle the Court’s advisory opinions are consultative in character and are therefore not binding as such on the requesting bodies. Certain instruments or regulations can, however, provide in advance that the advisory opinion shall be binding.
Jurisdiction Of ICJ
The Court is competent to entertain a dispute only if the States concerned have accepted its jurisdiction in one or more of the following ways: 1. by the conclusion between them of 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 disagreement over its interpretation or application, one of them may refer the dispute to the Court.Over three hundred treaties or conventions contain a clause to such effect; 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. In cases of doubt as to whether the Court has jurisdiction, it is the Court itself which decides.