International Court of Justice

How important is the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the global community 2022?

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International Court of Justice

The International Court of Justice, also known as the World Court, is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations. It was established in 1945 by the Charter of the United Nations and began its work in 1946. The Court has a dual role: to settle legal disputes submitted to it by States and to provide advisory opinions on legal questions referred to it by other organs or agencies of the United Nations.

You can grasp the extent of ICJ by its recent Cases listed below:

Recent ICJ cases 2022

Case of genocide against Myanmar (July 2022)

The highest Court of the United Nations has dismissed Myanmar’s initial objections to a case that says Myanmar is guilty of genocide against the Rohingya ethnic minority.

What exactly is the issue?

In the wake of an assault by a Rohingya rebel group, Myanmar’s military conducted what it termed a clearing effort in the Rakhine state in 2017. Over 700,000 Rohingya people have fled to neighbouring Bangladesh, and Myanmar security forces have been accused of widespread rapes, massacres, and torching of thousands of Rohingya houses. 

In November 2019, Gambia filed a complaint with the World Court, saying that Myanmar violated the genocide convention (More about this convention at the end of the article) in its treatment of the Rohingya. The country stated that both Gambia and Myanmar are members of the Convention and that all parties have a responsibility to guarantee its implementation.

ICJ ordered russia to Stop the war

Following the Russian Invasion of Ukraine in Feb 2022, Ukraine had filed a case against Russia in the International Court of Justice for non-compliance with the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (the “Genocide Convention”). 

  • 16 March 2022: The United Nations’ top Court for international disputes ordered Russia to immediately halt its military operations in Ukraine, saying it was “profoundly concerned” by Moscow’s use of force.
  • Although the International Court of Justice (ICJ) makes binding decisions, it has no direct means of enforcing them, and countries have ignored them in rare cases in the past.
  • The order stated, “The Russian Federation shall immediately suspend the military operations that it began on the territory of Ukraine on February 24, 2022,” the ICJ judges ruled in a 13-2 decision.
  • Justice Dalveer Bhandari, the Indian judge at the International Court of Justice, also voted to end Russia’s war on Ukraine.
  • Justice Dalveer Bhandari, whose election to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) was hailed as a significant diplomatic victory by the government, voted with 12 other judges at the International Court, including those from the United States, France, and Germany, to order Russia to halt its invasion of Ukraine.

Now let’s learn about this powerfull institute

The International Court of Justice (ICJ)

The International Court of Justice / ICJ is the United Nations’ primary judicial body (UN). It is responsible for resolving legal disputes between member states of the United Nations and acting as a forum for international law. The International Court of Justice (ICJ), HQ-headquartered in The Hague, Netherlands, is composed of fifteen judges appointed by the United Nations General Assembly and Security Council.

Historical Background

The United Nations Charter established it in June 1945, and it commenced operations in April 1946. The Court is the successor to the League of Nations-established Permanent Court of International Justice (PCIJ). After the end of World War II (1939–45), the League of Nations and the PCIJ were superseded by the United Nations and the International Court of Justice (ICJ). The PCIJ was legally dissolved in April 1946, and its last president, El Salvador’s Judge José Gustavo Guerrero, became the ICJ’s first president.

Permanent Court of International Justice

The Permanent Court of International Justice / (PCIJ) is an international court established on July 1, 1922, by the League of Nations. It was the first permanent international Court and served as a model for the United Nations International Court of Justice. The PCIJ ceased to exist when the League of Nations was dissolved in 1946, but it was re-established as the International Court of Justice in 1945.

Relationship with the United Nations

The International Court of Justice is headquartered in The Hague at the Peace Palace. It is the only one of the UN’s six main organs that is not based in New York City. (The General Assembly, Security Council, Economic and Social Council, Trusteeship Council, and Secretariat are the other five organs.) All UN members are automatically parties to the ICJ statute, but this does not give the ICJ automatic jurisdiction over disputes involving them. The ICJ only has jurisdiction if both parties agree to it.

The ICJ’s decision is final and technically binding on the parties to a dispute. There is no provision for appeal; it can only be subject to interpretation or, in the event of the revelation of new facts, amendment. However, the ICJ has no mechanism to ensure that its orders are followed, and its power is derived from countries’ desire to do so.

Jurisdiction and functions

The International Court of Justice is the primary judicial organ of the United Nations. It is charged with settling, per international law, legal disputes submitted to it by states, and it also gives advisory opinions on the matter of legal questions referred to it by authorised organs of the United Nations. The ICJ Court is composed of fifteen judges elected by the General Assembly and the Security Council.

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) jurisdiction is based on the United Nations Charter and the Statute of the ICJ. The ICJ has both judicial and advisory functions. As a judicial body, the ICJ settles disputes between states. As an advisory body, the ICJ provides legal opinions at the request of UN organs or specialised agencies.

ICJ Composition

The Hague based International Court of Justice / (ICJ) has 15 judges who are elected to a nine-year term by the United Nations General Assembly and Security Council, which vote concurrently but separately. A willing candidate must receive a majority of the votes cast in both bodies to be elected. Every three years, one-third of the Court is elected. The court’s President and vice-president are chosen for three-year terms by secret ballot. Judges can run for re-election. So far, four Indians have served on the ICJ. Justice – Dalveer Bhandari, a former Supreme Court judge, has been operating at the ICJ since 2012. Other notables are R S Pathak (1989–1991), Nagendra Singh (1973–1988), and Sir Benegal Rau (1952–53).

Unlike other organs of international organisations, the Court is not made up of government officials. Members of the ICJ are independent judges who must first make a solemn declaration in Court that they will exercise their powers impartially and also conscientiously.

To ensure their independence, no court member can be dismissed unless the other members unanimously agree that they no longer meet the required conditions. In practice, this has never occurred.

International Court of Justice
International Court of Justice
 INTERNATIONAL COURT OF JUSTICE-ICJINTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT - ICC
ESTABLISHEMENT YEAR19462002
RELATIONSHIP WITH U.NThe United Nations' official court, commonly denoted as the "World Court."Independent. Not controlled by the United Nations. Can accept referrals from the UN Security Council. Can commence prosecution without the need for UN intervention.
HEADQUARTERSPeace Palace, HagueHague
JURISDICTIONMembers of the United Nations. Can provide advice to United Nations bodies. Individuals cannot be tried. International Law is used.Individuals who have been charged with international crimes are put to trial. International law is used because war crimes violate the Geneva Convention.
TYPES OF CASESSovereignty, border conflicts, maritime disputes, trade, natural resources, human rights, treaty breaches, treaty interpretation, and so on.Genocide, violations of human rights, war crimes, and aggressive crimes
DERIVES AUTHORITY FROMStates that ratify the United Nations Charter become signatories to the ICJ Statute. By ratifying the ICJ Statute, non-UN member nations can also become parties to the ICJ.Rome Statute
APPEALSThe ICJ's ruling is final. If governments do not comply, the UN Security Council has the authority to investigate.According to the Rome Statute, there is an Appeals Chamber.
FUNDINGU.N fundedcontributions from Rome Statute states; voluntary contributions from the United Nations; voluntary contributions from governments, international organisations, individuals, corporations, and foundations
international criminal court
international criminal court

Learn more about International Criminal Court

India at the ICJ

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is the primary judicial body of the United Nations. India has been a party to six ICJ cases, four of which involved Pakistan. They are as follows: 

  • Passage Rights over Indian Territory (Portugal v. India, culminating in 1960);
  • Appeals Concerning- Jurisdiction of the ICAO Council (India v. Pakistan, finalised in 1972);
  • Pakistani Prisoners of War Trial (Pakistan v. India, concluded in 1973);
  • August 10, 1999, aerial incident (Pakistan vs. India, which culminated in 2000);
  • Obligations linked to Nuclear Arms Race Cessation and Nuclear Disarmament Negotiations (Marshall Islands v. India, concluded in 2016);
  • Jadhav (Kulbhushan) (India v. Pakistan, culminating in 2019).

Limitation on the Functioning of the ICJ

Since its inception in 1946, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) has been a fundamental part of the international legal order. The ICJ is the principal judicial organ of the UN and is responsible for settling disputes between states. However, the ICJ’s ability to effectively fulfil its mandate has been increasingly called into question in recent years. 

The Court may only hear a dispute if one or more states requests it. It is incapable of resolving a conflict on its own. Neither is it authorised by its statute to examine and adjudicate on the acts of sovereign states.

The ICJ’s decision is final and technically binding on the parties to a dispute. There is no provision for appeal; it can only be subject to interpretation or, in the event of the revelation of new facts, amendment. However, the ICJ has no mechanism to ensure that its orders are followed, and its power is derived from countries’ desire to do so.

Recent examples of ICJ cases

Kulbhushan Jadhav’s Case

The Kulbhushan Jadhav Case of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) is a recent example of the use of international law to protect the rights of individuals. In this case, India alleged that Pakistan had violated the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations by not informing India of Jadhav’s arrest and by denying him access to consular services.

On May 18, 2017, Kulbhushan Jadhav was sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court. The decision to sentence Jadhav to death was made without providing him with a fair trial. This created a lot of tension between India and Pakistan, and Jadhav’s case was taken up at the International Court of Justice (ICJ). The ICJ heard the case from July 17 to July 18, 2018.

During the most recent hearing in the case, held in February 2019, India stated that Pakistan’s continuing detention of Indian national Kulbhushan Jadhav without consular access should be ruled “illegal” since it was a flagrant violation of the Vienna Convention.

Harish Salve, defending India and Kulbhushan Jadhav in the International Court of Justice, stated that Pakistan was exploiting the Kulbhushan Jadhav case as a “propaganda tool” without following legal protocol.

Ukraine has filed an application before the ICJ against the Russia. 

Ukraine has filed a case with the International Court of Justice against Russia concerning the non-fulfilment of the -1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (the “Genocide Convention”).

Ukraine has approached the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to initiate proceedings against Russia over its violation of the Genocide Convention. The UN adopted the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide in 1948, and it prohibits genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes.

Since World War II’s end, several initiatives have been made to prevent genocide from occurring again. The first attempt was the Genocide Convention, which was drafted in 1948 and came into effect in 1951

The Genocide Convention is a 1948 international treaty that prohibits genocide. It defines genocide as “acts committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group.” The treaty also requires signatories to take steps to prevent and punish genocide.

The Genocide Convention

  • The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (Genocide Convention) is an international legal document that formalises the crime of genocide for the first time.
  • The Genocide Convention was the first human rights instrument ratified by the United Nations General Assembly on December 9, 1948.
  • According to the Genocide Convention, genocide is a crime that may occur both during the war and during peace.
  • The Convention imposes on States Parties the duty to take steps to prevent and punish genocide, including implementing applicable laws and prosecuting criminals.
  • This commitment, together with the ban on committing genocide, has been recognised as the standard of international customary law and hence enforceable on all states, regardless of whether they have signed the Genocide Convention.

In conclusion, the International Court of Justice is a valuable resource for resolving disputes between countries. It is an important part of the United Nations and has helped to maintain peace and stability in the world. We urge everyone to learn more about this court and its work, so that we can all be better informed and appreciate its importance.

FAQ

The International Court of Justice is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations. It was established by the Charter of the United Nations in 1945 and began its work in 1946. The Court has a dual role: to settle legal disputes between states and to provide advisory opinions on legal questions referred to it by organs or agencies of the United Nations.

The court is composed of fifteen judges, who are elected by the General Assembly and the Security Council.

Joan E. Donoghue is an American lawyer, international legal expert, and current President of the International Court of Justice. She was originally appointed to the court in 2010, was re-elected in 2014, and was voted by the ICJ judges to be President of the ICJ in 2021.

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations. It was established in 1945 by the Charter of the United Nations and began its work in 1946. The court has a dual role: to settle legal disputes submitted to it by states and to give advisory opinions on legal questions referred to it by authorised UN organs and agencies.

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) was established in 1945 and began functioning in 1946. The court has two principal functions: to settle legal disputes submitted to it by states and to give advisory opinions on legal questions submitted to it by authorised UN organs and specialised agencies.

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