International Court of Justice (ICJ)

The global community is one that is always changing. Conflicts arise among the various community members as a result. International disputes between two or more States such as the location of their borders, argue over island and maritime borders, broken treaties, and other international law regulations, diplomatic relations, human rights, etc. arise more often. So, to resolve such disputes, an international body namely world court or international court of justice has been set up.

What does Exact Role ICJ Play?

One of the main UN organizations is the International Court of Justice (ICJ). It offers advice to the General Assembly on matters pertaining to international law and settles disputes between UN member states (countries).

Only UN member nations are allowed to take part in the court's proceedings; the ICJ does not hold trials of specific individuals. For the benefit of other entities, states may argue cases involving, e.g., companies or groups of people within their own jurisdictions.

Types of Cases

Usually, the ICJ hears two types of cases −

  • Contentious cases − Cases that involve international law or treaty obligations and two or more governments disagree on are referred to as "contentious cases." Only when both parties consent to the ICJ's jurisdiction or where a provision of the relevant treaty specifies that the ICJ shall have conflict-resolution authority in such instances may the ICJ act upon that jurisdiction.

  • Advisory Cases − In order to clarify a matter of international law or procedure, the General Assembly and other UN organizations may ask the Court for advisory opinions. Although the court's ruling should theoretically apply to all states that are members of the United Nations, such cases do not specifically target any particular governments.

Composition of ICJ

There are 15 judges of the ICJ.

  • Each judge has a nine-year term in office.

  • The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) and United Nations Security Council (UNSC) independently choose who they will be. To be chosen, the candidate must receive a resounding majority in both the UNGA and UNSC.

  • In the ICJ, no two judges may share the same nationality.

  • One-third of the seats are up for election every three years, and retiring judges are eligible for reelection.

  • The judges who make up the ICJ are independent magistrates, not representatives of their countries.

  • The judges must be either recognized jurists with recognized competence in international law or possess the qualifications necessary in their respective nations for appointment to the highest judicial posts.

Formation of ICJ

The procedures for the peaceful settlement of conflicts between states are outlined in Article 33 of the United Nations Charter and include negotiation, investigation, mediation, and other techniques. The assistance of other parties is used in several of these techniques.

  • In the past, arbitration and mediation came before a court decision. Both the former and the latter were practiced in ancient India and the Islamic world, while countless examples of the latter can be found in ancient Greece, China, among the tribes of Arabia, marine customary law in medieval Europe, and papal practice.

The development of international arbitration −

  • The so-called Jay Treaty between the United States of America and Great Britain, which was signed in 1794, is generally acknowledged as the beginning of the first phase.

  • A second, even more crucial phase began in 1872 with the Alabama Claims Arbitration between the United Kingdom and the United States.

  • The Russian Czar Nicholas II organized the 1899 Hague Peace Conference, which signaled the start of a third stage in the development of international arbitration.


The Permanent Court of International Justice has been replaced by this court. The League of Nations established the Permanent Court of International Justice in 1922. It handled 60 cases between 1932 and 1940. After World War II, it was dissolved. On April 18, 1946, the permanent court was replaced by the ICJ. Together with its statue, it has inherited its legal system and traditions.

Limitations of ICJ

Some restrictions on the ICJ exist; these restrictions are primarily structural, circumstantial, and connected to the material resources made accessible to the Court.

  • Trials of anyone charged with war crimes or crimes against humanity are not within its purview.

  • It lacks a prosecutor who can start proceedings because it is not a criminal court.

  • The ICJ is not a supreme court that national courts may appeal to. It is not a court of last resort for individuals, either.

  • It also does not serve as an appeals court for international tribunals, but it has the authority to rule on the legality of arbitration awards.

  • The ICJ cannot adjudicate a case suo moto.

  • It does not have a complete separation of powers because the Security Council's permanent members can veto the enforcement of cases, even if they agreed to be bound by them.


ICJ plays a significant role in fostering and upholding peace as the primary judicial body of the United Nations. State heads and other dignitaries frequently pay them a visit. It resolves extremely difficult international matters in less than five years. Less than 1% of the money for the UN goes toward the court. The world has nothing like it. The International Court of Justice (ICJ) supports the United Nations in order for it to accomplish its core goal, which is to uphold and advance global peace and security.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. What procedures does the International Court of Justice follow?

Ans. There are two distinct methods used by the International Court of Justice (ICJ). Secondly, it has the power to serve as a forum for adjudication of disputes between two member states in situations referred to as "contentious matters." Second, if a body or specialized agency of the United Nations asks it to, it may agree to requests for advisory opinions on legal issues.

Q2. Where is the International Court of Justice Located?

Ans. ICJ is located at The Hague, Netherlands. The International Court of Justice is housed in the Peace Palace. The Peace Palace is an iconic building that was built specifically to house the ICJ and other international institutions.

Q3. What is the purpose of the International Court of Justice?

Ans. The main court of the United Nations is the International Court of Justice (ICJ). The ICJ's duties include providing advisory opinions on legal issues that have been referred to it by recognized United Nations institutions and specialized agencies, as well as resolving legal disputes that States have presented to it for resolution in line with international law.

Updated on: 06-Apr-2023


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