International Court of Justice
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International Court of Justice The International Court of Justice (ICJ), also known as the World Court, is the primary judicial organ of the United Nations. It is based in the Peace Palace in The Hague, the Netherlands. It succeeded the Permanent Court of International Justice (PCIJ), which was provided for in the Covenant of the League of Nations. The PCIJ started in 1922 and was dissolved in 1946. Between 1922 and 1940, the PCIJ dealt with 29 contentious cases between States and delivered 27 advisory opinions. It stopped functioning when Nazi-Germany invaded the Netherlands in 1940. The World Court The World Court was established in 1945 by the UN Charter and began work one year later. The Court's workload is characterised by a wide range of judicial activity. It may entertain two types of cases: legal disputes between States submitted to it by them (contentious cases) and requests for advisory opinions on legal questions referred to it by United Nations organs and specialised agencies (advisory proceedings). The Court decides in accordance with international treaties and conventions in force, international custom, the general principles of law and, as subsidiary means, judicial decisions and the teachings of the most highly qualified scholars. Only States (UN member states and other States who are party to the Court Statute) may be parties to contentious cases. The Court is competent to handle a dispute only if the States concerned have accepted its jurisdiction in one or more of the following ways: by entering into a special agreement to submit the dispute to the Court; by virtue of a jurisdictional clause; or 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. Judgements & Advisory Opinions Judgments delivered by the Court in disputes between states are binding upon the parties concerned and are without appeal. If either of the parties challenges their scope or meaning, it has the option to request an interpretation. Since 1946 the Court has delivered 95 judgments on disputes concerning land frontiers, maritime boundaries, territorial sovereignty, the non-use of force, violation of international humanitarian law, noninterference in the internal affairs of states, diplomatic relations, hostage-taking, the right of asylum, nationality, guardianship, rights of passage and economic rights. Advisory proceedings before the Court are open solely to five organs of the United Nations and to 16 specialised agencies of the UN. The General Assembly and Security Council may request advisory opinions on any legal question, the others only with respect to legal questions arising within the scope of their activities. Unlike the ICJ's judgments, the Court's opinions have no binding effect. Certain instruments or regulations can, however, provide beforehand that an advisory opinion by the Court shall have binding force. It remains nevertheless that the authority and prestige
of the Court attach to its advisory opinions and that where the organ or agency concerned endorses that opinion, that decision is as it were sanctioned by international law. Increased use of the Court The ICJ has dealt with relatively few cases until the 1980s. There has been an increased willingness to use the Court since then, particularly among developing countries. The United States withdrew from compulsory jurisdiction in 1986 and accepts the court's jurisdiction only on a case-to-case basis. Since 1946 the Court has given 25 advisory opinions, concerning the legal consequences of the construction of a wall in the occupied Palestinian territory, admission to United Nations membership, reparation for injuries suffered in the service of the UN, territorial status of South-West Africa (Namibia) and Western Sahara, judgments rendered by international administrative tribunals, expenses of certain UN operations, the status of human rights rapporteurs, and the legality of the threat or use of nuclear weapons. The ICJ is composed of 15 judges who are elected by the UN General Assembly for a period of nine years. In order to ensure a certain measure of continuity, one-third of the Court (five judges) is elected every three years. Judges are eligible for re-election. Permanent Court of Arbitration The ICJ should not be confused with the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA), which is also housed in the Peace Palace that was built specially for this Court in 1913. It was established in 1989 as one of the acts of the first Hague Peace Conference in 1899, which makes it the oldest institution for international dispute resolution. Unlike the ICJ, the PCA is not just open to states but also to other parties. The PCA is an administrative organisation with the object of having permanent and readily available means to serve as the registry for purposes of international arbitration and other related procedures, including commissions of enquiry and conciliation. The PCA provides services for the resolution of disputes involving various combinations of states, state entities, intergovernmental organisations, and private parties. The PCA administers cases arising out of international treaties and other agreements to arbitrate. The cases conducted by the PCA span a wide range of legal issues, including disputes over territorial and maritime boundaries, sovereignty, human rights, international investment and matters concerning international and regional trade. Court proceedings have a rather closed nature since hearings are rarely open to the public and sometimes even the decision itself is kept confidential at the request of the parties. The PCA has dealt with 50 cases, hosted 5 international commissions of inquiry, and facilitated 3 international conciliation commissions