International Court Of Justice
United Nations Charter lays down various methods for settlement of international disputes, including, arbitration and judicial settlement. Arbitration has been the most traditional methods used for settling international disputes and it can be traced right upto 1872 to Alabama Claims Arbitration between United States and United Kingdom. In 1899, a Permanent Court of Arbitration was formed which was neither permanent nor a Court but was the first step towards settlement of international disputes (“International Court of Justice General Information – History”, 2006).
Article 14 of the Covenant of League of Nations imposed a duty upon the Council of the League to establish a Permanent Court of International Justice in 1922 for adjudicating disputes of international nature (Bowett, D., 1999, p 264). The International Court of Justice or World Court was established later in 1946 to replace the Permanent Court of International Justice and hence it is not the first World Court.
The functions of the International Court are two fold, first to settle disputes of international nature in accordance with international law and second to give advisory opinions on questions related to international law referred to it by international organizations and agencies. The International Court to perform these functions follows the procedure
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When proceeding is initiated by special agreement, then this is bilateral in nature and can be filed by either of the parties separately or both together. On the other hand, initiation of procedure by application is unilateral and is filed by an applicant State against the Respondent State (The International Court of Justice, 2004 pp 51-54). The broad procedure of the cases filed with the World Court includes the written pleadings together with the oral arguments which together forms the basis of the decision that is taken by the Court.
Where initiation is by special agreement then the parties file detailed written pleadings. This includes details as to the facts of the case, the prevailing law, the grievances and the relief prayed. Similarly, where initiation is by application, two pleadings are filed, namely, Memorial by Applicant and Counter Memorial by Respondent. After pleadings are filed the parties appoint Counsels to address the court in public hearings.
Then the Court in private deliberates over the pleadings and the arguments and the judgment is then delivered in open Court. This judgment is final and cannot be appealed against. In event of non compliance the only recourse to the aggrieved party is to approach the Security Council of the United Nations. (International Court of Justice General Information – The Court at a Glance, Feb 2006)
The procedure followed by the World Court is similar to the basic procedures broadly followed by the Courts in the United States. When the Courts in the United States are in Session, then the applicants have to submit written briefs clearly defining the facts of the case, the law, the grievances and the relief prayed for. This written submission is then followed by oral arguments by counsels appointed by the parties. The Court then deliberates on the written and oral arguments and then passes its judgment (The court and its Procedures, September 2006).
It was seen that only States had a right to appear before the World Court and the role of international organizations was restricted to furnishing information requested by the State in question and the International Court. The World Court then initiated the process of “Advisory opinion” to allow Public International Organizations to approach it for interpretation of international law and legal advice. In other words, international organizations can now directly approach the World Court and seek interpretation of the texts of law or of the Charter of the United Nations.
They can also seek advice regarding disputes arising 1] between two organizations or 2] between an organization and its staff member, 3] between an organization and a State member, or 4] two or more State members of the same agency. A total of 22 international organizations have been given this right to approach the World Court for legal advice. However, despite this facility being made available, very few organizations have utilized this facility (The International Court of Justice, 2004 pp 79-82).
Bowett, D. (1999). The Law of International Institutions, p 260. 4th Ed. Universal Law Publishing Co. Pvt. Ltd. : New Delhi.
(February, 2006). International Court of Justice General Information – History. Retrieved January 26, 2007 from http://www.icj-cij.org/icjwww/igeneralinformation/ibbook/Bbookchapter1.HTM
(February, 2006). International Court of Justice General Information – The Court at a Glance. Retrieved January 26, 2007 from http://www.icj-cij.org/icjwww/igeneralinformation/icjgnnot.html
ICJ Hague, (2004). The Proceedings in The International Court of Justice, pp 51-54. (5th Ed) Great Britain. Retrieved January 26, 2007 from
ICJ Hague, 2004. Advisory Opinions in The International Court of Justice, pp 79-82. (5th Ed) Great Britain. Retrieved on January 26, 2007 from
(September, 2006). The court and its procedures. Retrieved January 26, 2007 from http://www.supremecourtus.gov/about/about.html