Effectiveness of International Court Of Justice

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The primary court for the United Nations is the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

The International Court of Justice, which is the judicial organ of the United Nations, replaced the Permanent Court of International Justice following World War Two. It operates under the authority given by Article 92 of the UN Charter and adheres to a Statute that adopts principles from the Statute of the Permanent Court of International Justice. This Statute is an integral part of the current Charter.

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According to Article 93 of the UN, all members of the organization are also members of The Statute. Furthermore, non-UN member states can join the Statute under conditions set by the UN General Assembly upon recommendations from the Security Council. This provision allows non-member countries like Switzerland and San Marino to become parties to the Court’s Statute.

The court is comprised of 15 judges who are elected by both the General Assembly and the Security Council. It is important to note that no two judges can be from the same state. Each judge serves a term of 9 years, with the option of being re-elected.

The International Criminal Court, located in The Hague, Netherlands, has the capacity to hold sessions in different locations as required. It operates without interruption except during judicial breaks and functions as an autonomous organization that chooses its president and vice-president, appoints its registrar, and employs other staff members.

The court’s primary role is to resolve conflicts between nations. Only states are permitted to bring their cases before the court. The court is accessible to all member states of the statute who meet the SC’s criteria. Proceedings take place in both French and English, allowing parties to choose which language to use. Arguments presented in one language are translated into the other. The court publishes its judgments and opinions in both languages.

The court hears cases through two methods: by notification of a special agreement between the parties or by a party unilaterally submitting a written appeal to the registrar. The proceedings consist of two parts – written and oral.

The Court possesses the power to hear testimonies and appoint expert commissions for investigations and reports if deemed necessary. These procedures were employed in the cases of Corfu Channel, Temple of Preah Vihear, and South West Africa (1966). While the court’s discussions are held privately, the verdicts are openly announced during court sessions as determined by a majority vote. In the event of a tie, the President holds the authority to render a final decision by casting a deciding vote; this situation arose in the South West Africa Case with an equal 7-7 vote. Any judge has the right to present an individual opinion if they do not fully concur with the judgment. The court’s ruling is conclusive and cannot be challenged.

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) lacks enforcement powers, but it mandates all United Nations members to adhere to its rulings via Article 94 of the Charter. This article compels parties involved in a case to comply with the court’s decisions and allows recourse to the Security Council if obligations stated in the court’s judgment are not fulfilled. The Security Council can offer recommendations or determine appropriate actions for ensuring adherence.

Article 65 of the Statute of the court allows it to provide advisory opinions on legal questions when requested by the appropriate body authorized by or in accordance with the UN Charter. Article 96 of the Charter states that the General Assembly, Security Council, and other UN organs and specialized agencies, when authorized by the General Assembly, may request such opinions. These requests must be in writing and include a precise statement of the questions along with any relevant documents. The procedure for requesting advisory opinions is similar to that of contentious cases.

As an advisory body, the court has provided significant opinions on the costs of peacekeeping, which may be considered usual expenses. It has also offered opinions on admissions to the UN. Given the ICJ’s limited powers and its requirement to strictly adhere to its charter, it can be questioned whether it can effectively resolve cases brought before it. Its failures to do so when approached and its shortcomings must also be considered when evaluating its effectiveness in maintaining world peace.

The ICJ, established in 1946, has handled 41 disputes between states and provided 21 advisory opinions. Although it has had both successes and failures, it is noteworthy that there has been a remarkably high level of compliance with the ICJ’s decisions. Only in two cases, the Corfu Channel Case and the US-Nicaragua case, did the countries refuse to adhere to the ICJ’s rulings. This diligent adherence can be attributed to the voluntary nature of using the ICJ. Accordingly, states would not seek the ICJ’s judgment unless they had already accepted its decisions in advance, regardless of whether it favored them or not, as an obligatory matter.

An example that proves the effectiveness of the ICJ is referred to as a successful case.

In the “Fisheries” case (1951), the International Court of Justice (ICJ) settled the dispute between the United States and Norway regarding territorial waters and fishing rights. The court ruled in favor of Norway, resolving the issue of British fishing vessels operating within waters claimed by Norway. In another successful case, known as the “North Sea Continental Shelf” cases (1969), Denmark, the Netherlands, and West Germany were involved.

The settlement had a significant impact on the future drilling of oil and gas in the North Sea. Additionally, the ICJ played a part in shaping the Law of the Sea through its involvement in the 1974 “Fisheries Jurisdiction” case between the UK and Iceland. During this case, it emphasized the importance of safeguarding the sea’s “living resources.”

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has successfully resolved territorial disputes in various cases. For example, it effectively addressed the conflict over two small uninhabited islands – the Minquier and Ecrehou islands – which were disputed by both the United Kingdom and France. Additionally, the ICJ played a significant role in settling a longstanding dispute between Nicaragua and Honduras concerning villages on their shared border. Similarly, the court resolved the sovereignty dispute over the Preah Vihear temple located in Cambodian territory between Cambodia and Thailand. Moreover, during the “Frontier Dispute” Case of 1986, the ICJ settled a border clash involving Burkina Faso and Mali. Furthermore, it made a ruling on two contested pieces of land claimed by both Belgium and Holland, ultimately determining them to belong to Belgium.

The failures of the ICJ to resolve interstate disputes are well known. Currently, there are over 30 unresolved cases involving valuable land boundaries that have not been brought before the ICJ. This is because one party’s claim lacks legal grounds. In certain situations, such as the examples mentioned above, one or more parties involved refuse to accept the court’s jurisdiction. This refusal renders the court ineffective. For instance, when aircraft incidents occurred between the US and USSR related to planes shot down off Japan and one forced down in Hungary, both parties refused to acknowledge the jurisdiction of the ICJ. In 1955, Israel, USA, and the UK filed a case against Bulgaria for shooting down an Israeli civilian aircraft over its territory. However, Bulgaria rejected the jurisdiction of the ICJ. Therefore, the court’s ability to act was limited in these instances.

In 1960, the ICJ was deemed ineffective when Ethiopia and Liberia raised a case accusing South Africa of violating the human rights of the natives of Namibia. Namibia had been ruled under the league of Nations mandate. Despite a lengthy and laborious process, the ICJ ultimately determined the case brought forth by Ethiopia and Liberia to be illegal and subsequently dismissed it on procedural grounds.

The International Court of Justice has encountered limitations in its effectiveness. In 1979, the ICJ demanded the release of US diplomats held hostage in Teheran and requested reparations. However, Iran contested the authority of the ICJ and disregarded its ruling. Another instance occurred in 1984 when Nicaragua lodged a complaint asserting US support for the Nicaraguan Contra rebels against the Sandinista government. The ICJ ruled in favor of Nicaragua two years later. Nevertheless, before this ruling, the US had already withdrawn its acceptance of the ICJ’s jurisdiction in 1985. These cases vividly exemplify the constraints that impede the effectiveness of the International Court of Justice.

The ICJ’s limitations in settling interstate disputes are reflected.

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) often deals with protracted cases that could span several years for a hearing. During this time, the Court has the power to impose interim measures before delivering a final verdict. As a result, the resolution process in the ICJ is lengthy and consumes a considerable amount of time.

Despite the ICJ’s attempt to maintain neutrality through diverse judges of various nationalities, its effectiveness is limited. This limitation is not solely attributed to the court itself but also influenced by biases resulting from human predispositions. Furthermore, influential states frequently refrain from submitting significant peace and security issues to the ICJ since they do not recognize its jurisdiction.

Critics argue that the ICJ’s decisions are infrequent and difficult to enforce, accusing it of “infringing on sovereignty”. They claim that the ICJ is time-consuming and of limited value. However, it should be acknowledged that these problems are not solely the responsibility of the ICJ. Parties involved in claims often request more time to prepare their cases. Furthermore, since the use of the ICJ is voluntary, it cannot resolve cases that are not brought before it and should not be held accountable for matters beyond its jurisdiction.

Despite its flaws and numerous failures, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) has made a positive impact on the progress of International Law and the promotion of principles such as sovereignty, non-conquest, human rights, and state’s existence and self-defense. In addition, the ICJ has effectively aided in resolving disputes between states.

Despite the various challenges it encounters, the ICJ has made commendable accomplishments and possesses indisputable significance. Above all, it offers states an extra avenue for resolving their conflicts peacefully with the assistance of a neutral third party, consequently lowering the risk of armed conflict.

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Effectiveness of International Court Of Justice. (2018, Aug 18). Retrieved from


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