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What is the International Court of Justice? Rules of the International Court


The International Court of Justice is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations, exercising its mandate in the settlement of disputes between States and giving advisory conclusions on legal matters at the request of the General Assembly, the Security Council of the United Nations or other agency of the United Nations.

The Statute of the International Court of Justice is an integral part of the Charter of the United Nations. The International Court of Justice is not a judicial body standing above states to judge issues arising in international life.

Functions of the International Court of Justice

  • According to the Statute, the United Nations International Court of Justice comprises 15 judges from different nations representing the world’s significant civilizations and legal systems.
  • The elected judges are those who receive an absolute majority of votes both in the United Nations General Assembly and in the United Nations Security Council.
  • The International Court of Justice judges have a term of 9 years and can be re-elected after that. Concerning disputes that countries have agreed to authorize to be resolved by the International Court of Justice, if one party refuses to implement the award rendered by the International Court, the other party has the right to request the Security Council to intervene. For the ruling to be followed.
  • The advisory conclusions of the International Court are not binding on international agencies and organizations that have requested the International Court to issue these conclusions because, legally, it only represents the collective opinion of international judges on specific legal issues.


International Court of Justice

The predecessor of The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is the Permanent Court of International Justice (PCIJ) – which is a court of the League of Nations founded in 1922. The PCIJ existed with the existence of the League of Nations until the UN’s establishment and the ICJ’s birth to replace the PCIJ in 1946.

The International Court of Justice is a Court established and operating based on the Charter of the United Nations and the Statute of the International Court of Justice. The Charter of the United Nations devotes the entirety of Chapter XIV from Articles 92 to Article 96, to stipulating the fundamental issues of the Court’s organization, competence, and operation. The Statute of the International Court of Justice, consisting of 70 articles, is considered an appendix organically attached to the Charter of the United Nations. ICJ headquarters is located in The Hague, Netherlands.


The organizational structure of the International Court of Justice

The International Court of Justice consists of 15 judges of different nationalities. The International Court of Justice judges are elected by the General Assembly and the United Nations Security Council for nine years, and one-third of the judges are re-elected yearly. Criteria to elect judges of the International Court of Justice are based on individual capacity, geographical correlation, and representation of legal systems worldwide. A judge of the Court may not hold any political, administrative, or professional position during their term in office. In addition to the judges, when the trial opens, the disputing parties can choose ad hoc judges. An ad hoc judge is a judge nominated by one of the disputing parties without a judge of their nationality in the composition of the Court to participate in the Trial Panel.

The adjudicators may be selected by the Court or by the request of the disputing parties to participate in the dispute resolution. The process to further enlist the contributions of experts in the field related to the operation of the Court- especially in the technical fields. The secretariat is in charge of judicial services and is the liaison between the Court and the disputing parties.

The International Court of Justice has the following main functions:

  • Dispute settlement function: ICJ is an agency with the process of settling disputes between member states of the United Nations and non-member states of the United Nations. Dispute settlement jurisdiction of the Court is determined in three ways: Acceptance of the Court’s jurisdiction on a case-by-case basis, Pre-acceptance of the Court’s rights in international treaties, unilateral declaration of prior acceptance of the jurisdiction of the Court.
  • Function of making advisory conclusions: ICJ gives advisory decisions when the General Assembly requires or the United Nations Security Council related to legal issues arising in the practice activities of these agencies. States do not have the right to ask the Court to provide an advisory conclusion on their dispute. The advice is recommendations only.

Proceedings in Court

ICJ conducts international dispute settlement in a complete or summary order. The composition of a trial is a minimum of 9 judges. The entire sequence consists of 2 stages: the stage of conducting additional procedures and the stage of adjudicating the content of the case. Within the scope of its functions, courts can create three specific types of courts: summary courts, special courts, and ad hoc courts. It is clearly stated in chapter III of the International Court of Justice Statute.

The procedure for adjudicating a dispute before the Court is specified in the International Court of Justice regulations. The adjudication process consists of two stages:

  • A written procedure in which the States complete and exchange records of each party’s arguments and the arguments of impeachment or defense.
  • A spoken procedure (Court Litigation) in which the Court will hear the parties, attorneys, and counsel in a public hearing.

In addition to this general two-stage procedure for any dispute brought before the Court, the court proceedings on a case-by-case basis will follow these steps:

  • The parties file a lawsuit with the Court and appoint their liaison representatives
  • The Court conducts additional procedures to the main course on substantive adjudication: The Court will consider determining its competence in each specific case mentioned. At each crucial point, the Court may issue necessary temporary security measures to protect the interests of each party. Consolidation of patients with common dispute objectives. The possibility of the trial is absent.
  • The Court considers the possibility of third-party involvement in the case.
  • The Court hears about the content of the case.
  • Make the final decision to resolve the dispute.


The judgment of the Court is binding on the parties

The decisions of the Court are final and binding on the parties. The Court’s decision is critical only to the parties to the dispute and only in that case (Article 59 of the Statute of the Court). However, it can be seen that although the Court’s decision is not binding on the parties to the dispute, it indirectly impacts these countries.

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