The International Court of Justice (ICJ) | IAS Target IAS Target

The International Court of Justice (ICJ)

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is sometimes called the World Court and it is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations (UN). Through its opinions and rulings, it serves as a source of international law.

The ICJ's primary functions are

  • To settle international legal disputes submitted by states (contentious cases) and
  • Give advisory opinions on legal issues referred to it by the UN (advisory proceedings).
The ICJ is the successor of the Permanent Court of International Justice (PCIJ), which was established by the League of Nations in 1920 and initiated its first session in 1922. After the II World War, both the League and the PCIJ were succeeded by the United Nations and ICJ, respectively. All members of the UN are party to the ICJ Statute. Non-UN members may also become parties to the Court's statute under Article 93(2) procedure.

Established 1945
Location The Hague, Netherlands

The court is seated in the Peace Palace in The Hague, Netherlands, making it the only principal U.N. organ not located in New York City. Its official working languages are English and French.

Procedure for Judge Selection

  • The ICJ comprises a panel of 15 judges elected by the General Assembly and Security Council for nine-year terms.
  • In order to be elected, a candidate must receive an absolute majority of the votes in both bodies.
  • No two judges may be nationals of the same country
  • These organs vote simultaneously but disjointedly.
  • Judges may be re-elected for up to two further terms.
  • Elections are staggered, with five judges elected every 3 year to ensure continuity within the court.

There is an informal understanding that the seats will be distributed by geographic regions.

  • Two for Eastern European states,
  • Five seats for Western countries,
  • Three for Asian states and
  • Three for African states,
  • Two for Latin American and Caribbean states

Five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (France, USSR, China, the United Kingdom, and the United States) have always had a judge serving