International Court of Justice
Court of Justice is the main judicial organ of the United Nations, and
is located in The Hague in the Netherlands. The Statute
of the Court guides the jurisdiction and procedure of the court.
- Court Function
The court primarily will deal with two types of issues: cases submitted by states and advisory opinions referred by approved international organs and agencies.
- Court Composition
The court consists of 15 judges elected to nine-year terms. The judges are elected by the United Nations General Assembly and the Security Council. No two judges may be of the same nationality. The representative judges are supposed to reflect the wide cultural and political systems in the world.
The current composition of the court follows:
President Gilbert Guillaume (France)
Vice-President Shi Jiuyong (China)
Shigeru Oda (Japan)
Raymond Ranjeva (Madagascar)
Géza Herczegh (Hungary)
Carl-August Fleischhauer (Germany)
Abdul G. Koroma (Sierra Leone)
Vladlen S. Vereshchetin (Russian Federation)
Rosalyn Higgins (United Kingdom)
Gonzalo Parra-Aranguren (Venezuela)
Pieter H. Kooijmans (Netherlands)
Francisco Rezek (Brazil)
Awn Shawkat Al-Khasawneh (Jordan)
Thomas Buergenthal (United States of America)
Nabil Elaraby (Egypt).
The only parties that can appear before the ICJ are states. All members of the United Nations, and Switzerland, are entitled to appear before the ICJ.
There are only a limited number of ways that States can appear before the court
- If both parties agree to have the case tried before the court
- If the party has signed onto a treaty that calls for resolution in the ICJ
- The United States has signed "The Optional
Protocol to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, concerning the Compulsory Settlement of Disputes". By signing the optional protocol the United States is bound to ICJ jurisdiction on claims based on the VCCR.
- 64 countries have signed the Statute accepting compulsory jurisdiction if the other country/party has signed as well.
Articles 39 - 64 of the Statute cover the ICJ's procedure. Simply put, a case is heard in two stages: the written stage and the oral stage. In the written stage, the two parties exchange briefs and file the briefs with the court. In the oral stage, the party/states are represented and plead their cases before the court. The judges then meet in camera and announce the decision publicly.
- Sources of Law
All forms of applicable international law are available to the court in its decisions. This includes treaties, judicial decisions, customary law and jus cogens.
- Advisory Opinions
Unlike many courts, the ICJ does give advisory opinions. However, only international organizations can ask for an advisory opinion.