Saturday, April 24, 2010

International Court of Justice

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations (UN). It was established in June 1945 by the Charter of the United Nations and began work in April 1946. The seat of the Court is at the Peace Palace in The Hague (Netherlands). Of the six principal organs of the United Nations, it is the only one not located in New York (United States of America).

The Court’s role is to settle, in accordance with international law, legal disputes submitted to it by States and to give advisory opinions on legal questions referred to it by authorized United Nations organs and specialized agencies.
The Court is composed of 15 judges, who are elected for terms of office of nine years by the United Nations General Assembly and the Security Council. It is assisted by a Registry, its administrative organ. Its official languages are English and French.


The International Court of Justice acts as a world court. The Court has a dual jurisdiction : it decides, in accordance with international law, disputes of a legal nature that are submitted to it by States (jurisdiction in contentious cases); and it gives advisory opinions on legal questions at the request of the organs of the United Nations or specialized agencies authorized to make such a request (advisory jurisdiction).

Contentious Jurisdiction

In the exercise of its jurisdiction in contentious cases, the International Court of Justice has to decide, in accordance with international law, disputes of a legal nature that are submitted to it by States. An international legal dispute can be defined as a disagreement on a question of law or fact, a conflict, a clash of legal views or of interests. Only States may apply to and appear before the International Court of Justice. International organizations, other collectivities and private persons are not entitled to institute proceedings before the Court.

Article 35 of the Statute defines the conditions of access for States to the Court. While paragraph 1 of that Article opens it to the State parties to the Statute, paragraph 2 is intended to regulate access to the Court by States which are not parties to the Statute. The conditions of access of such States are, subject to the special provisions contained in treaties in force at the date of the entry into force of the Statute, to be determined by the Security Council, with the proviso that in no case shall such conditions place the parties in a position of inequality before the Court.

The Court can only deal with a dispute when the States concerned have recognized its jurisdiction. No State can therefore be a party to proceedings before the Court unless it has in some manner or other consented thereto.

Advisory Jurisdiction

Since States alone have capacity to appear before the Court, public (governmental) international organizations cannot as such be parties to any case before it. A special procedure, the advisory procedure, is, however, available to such organizations and to them alone. Though based on contentious proceedings, the procedure in advisory proceedings has distinctive features resulting from the special nature and purpose of the advisory function.

Advisory proceedings begin with the filing of a written request for an advisory opinion addressed to the Registrar by the United-Nations Secretary-General or the director or secretary-general of the entity requesting the opinion. In urgent cases the Court may do whatever is necessary to speed up the proceedings. In order that it may be fully informed on the question submitted to it, the Court is empowered to hold written and oral proceedings.

A few days after the filing of the request, the Court draws up a list of those States and international organizations likely to be able to furnish information on the question before the Court. In general, the States listed are the member States of the organization requesting the opinion, while sometimes the other states to which the Court is open in contentious proceedings are also included. As a rule, organizations and States authorized to participate in the proceedings may submit written statements, followed, if the Court considers it necessary, by written comments on these statements. These written statements are generally made available to the public at the beginning of the oral proceedings, if the Court considers that such proceedings should take place.

Contrary to judgments, and except in rare cases where it is stipulated beforehand that they shall have binding effect (for example, as in the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations, in the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the specialized agencies of the United Nations, and the Headquarters Agreement between the United Nations and the United States of America), the Court's advisory opinions have no binding effect. The requesting organ, agency or organization remains free to decide, by any means open to it, what effect to give to these opinions.

Although without binding effect, the advisory opinions of the Court nevertheless carry great legal weight and moral authority. They are often an instrument of preventive diplomacy and have peace-keeping virtues. Advisory opinions also, in their way, contribute to the elucidation and development of international law and thereby to the strengthening of peaceful relations between States.
How the Court works.

Only States (States Members of the United Nations and other States which have become parties to the Statute of the Court or which have accepted its jurisdiction under certain conditions) may be parties to contentious cases.

The Court is competent to entertain a dispute only if the States concerned have accepted its jurisdiction in one or more of the following ways:
  1. by entering into a special agreement to submit the dispute to the Court;

  2. by virtue of a jurisdictional clause, i.e., typically, when they are parties to a treaty containing a provision whereby, in the event of a dispute of a given type or disagreement over the interpretation or application of the treaty, one of them may refer the dispute to the Court;

  3. 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. A number of these declarations, which must be deposited with the United Nations Secretary-General, contain reservations excluding certain categories of dispute.
States have no permanent representatives accredited to the Court. They normally communicate with the Registrar through the medium of their Minister for Foreign Affairs or their ambassador accredited to the Netherlands. Where they are parties to a case before the Court they are represented by an agent. An agent plays the same role, and has the same rights and obligations, as a solicitor or avoué with respect to a national court. But we are dealing here with international relations, and the agent is also as it were the head of a special diplomatic mission with powers to commit a sovereign State. He/she receives communications from the Registrar concerning the case and forwards to the Registrar all correspondence and pleadings duly signed or certified. In public hearings the agent opens the argument on behalf of the government he/she represents and lodges the submissions. In general, whenever a formal act is to be done by the government represented, it is done by the agent. Agents are sometimes assisted by co-agents, deputy agents or assistant agents and always have counsel or advocates, whose work they co-ordinate, to assist them in the preparation of the pleadings and the delivery of oral argument. Since there is no special International Court of Justice Bar, there are no conditions that have to be fulfilled for counsel or advocates to enjoy the right of arguing before it except only that they must have been appointed by a government to do so.

Proceedings may be instituted in one of two ways:

  1. through the notification of a special agreement: this document, which is of a bilateral nature, can be lodged with the Court by either of the States parties to the proceedings or by both of them. A special agreement must indicate the subject of the dispute and the parties thereto. Since there is neither an “applicant” State nor a “respondent” State, in the Court’s publications their names are separated by an oblique stroke at the end of the official title of the case, e.g., Benin/Niger;

  2. by means of an application: the application, which is of a unilateral nature, is submitted by an applicant State against a respondent State. It is intended for communication to the latter State and the Rules of Court contain stricter requirements with respect to its content. In addition to the name of the party against which the claim is brought and the subject of the dispute, the applicant State must, as far as possible, indicate briefly on what basis - a treaty or a declaration of acceptance of compulsory jurisdiction - it claims the Court has jurisdiction, and must succinctly state the facts and grounds on which it bases its claim. At the end of the official title of the case the names of the two parties are separated by the abbreviation “v.” (for the Latin versus), e.g., Nicaragua v. Colombia.
The date of the institution of proceedings, which is that of the receipt by the Registrar of the special agreement or application, marks the opening of proceedings before the Court. Contentious proceedings include a written phase, in which the parties file and exchange pleadings containing a detailed statement of the points of fact and of law on which each party relies, and an oral phase consisting of public hearings at which agents and counsel address the Court. As the Court has two official languages (English and French), everything written or said in one language is translated into the other. The written pleadings are not made available to the press and public until the opening of the oral proceedings, and then only if the parties have no objection.

After the oral proceedings the Court deliberates in camera and then delivers its judgment at a public sitting. The judgment is final, binding on the parties to a case and without appeal (at most it may be subject to interpretation or revision). Any judge wishing to do so may append an opinion to the judgment.

By signing the Charter, a State Member of the United Nations undertakes to comply with any decision of the Court in a case to which it is a party. Since, furthermore, a case can only be submitted to the Court and decided by it if the parties have in one way or another consented to its jurisdiction over the case, it is rare for a decision not to be implemented. A State which contends that the other side has failed to perform the obligations incumbent upon it under a judgment rendered by the Court may lay the matter before the Security Council, which is empowered to recommend or decide upon the measures to be taken to give effect to the judgment.

The procedure described above is the normal procedure. Certain matters can however affect the proceedings. The most common case is that of preliminary objections raised in order to prevent the Court from delivering judgment on the merits of the case (the respondent State may contend, for example, that the Court lacks jurisdiction or that the application is inadmissible). The matter is one for the Court itself to decide. Then, there are provisional measures, which can be requested as interim measures by the applicant State if the latter considers that the rights which form the subject of its application are in immediate danger. It may further occur that a State seeks to intervene in a dispute involving other States because it considers that it has an interest of a legal nature which may be affected by the decision to be taken in the dispute between those States. The Statute also makes provision for cases where the respondent State does not appear before the Court, either because it totally rejects the Court’s jurisdiction or for any other reason. Hence failure by one party to appear does not prevent proceedings in a case from taking their course. But in such a case the Court must first satisfy itself that it has jurisdiction. Finally, should the Court find that parties to separate proceedings are submitting the same arguments and submissions against a common opponent in relation to the same issue, it may order joiner of the proceedings.

The Court discharges its duties as a full court but, at the request of the parties, it may also establish ad hoc chambers to examine specific cases. A Chamber of Summary Procedure is elected every year by the Court in accordance with its Statute.

The sources of law that the Court must apply are: international treaties and conventions in force; international custom; the general principles of law; and judicial decisions and the teachings of the most highly qualified publicists. Moreover, if the parties agree, the Court can decide a case ex aequo et bono, i.e., without limiting itself to existing rules of international law.

A case may be brought to a conclusion at any stage of the proceedings by a settlement between the parties or by discontinuance. In the latter case, an applicant State may at any time inform the Court that it is not going on with the proceedings, or the two parties may declare that they have agreed to withdraw the case. The Court then removes the case from its List.

Balochistan Watch Raises Just few questions, that:

After reading the Jurisdiction of International Court of Justice it is Clear it does not entertain Cases of any non state actors, and Khan of Kalat does not Possess the position of representing a State. How come Khan of Kalat Suleman Dawood has announced to File a Case in International Court of Justice and also collecting Donations on the Name of Balochistan Legal Fund?

Isn’t it suspicious?

Or is it a Deliberate attempt to misguide the Baloch people around the world?

1 comment:

  1. Dear officer,

    I am a second year architecture student at University of Queensland, I am currently doing a research project on court house for different period. I have chosen International court of Justice as part of my research in understanding how International court of justice are designed back in 1945, where they first pick the building and designed in a way it has its own character, material type used, space and air and light arrange, as well as how it can fit into the local culture or any part of the design was following of the the designing trend at the time.

    If you have the floor plan for the Intentional court house would be really nice.

    Best Regards,


    my email :