International Court of Justice – An Overview



The International community is dynamic in nature and this nature results in disputes between the varied members of the community. States disagree on where their border, contest the islands of maritime borders, violate treaties and other rules of law of nations. So, who do states address for help? Resolving problems of this nature is that the responsibility of the International Court of Justice.

The ICJ isn’t only needed for resolving international disputes. The United Nations also seeks their help once they need advice on a legal issue. The court is alive since 1946. The official languages of ICJ are English and French. The United Nations Charter is an integral part of the ICJ and it regulates much power of ICJ. Therefore, all member states of the United Nations automatically recognize the authority of the ICJ and may invite its help in any legal matter.

So, the ICJ has addressed 177 cases. It doesn’t try individuals and only disputes between states are often submitted thereto.


The court contains 15 judges and every one of the judges are elected for a period of 9 years by the overall Assembly and therefore the Security Council. Five seats are renewed every three years. under the International Court of Justice, the judges are often re-elected. The members of the court must all come from different countries. But all the judges don’t represent their country and are independent judges of the court.

The composition of the court represents the geographical balance. Three seats on the bench of judges are occupied by African judges. Two seats are occupied by judges from Latin America and therefore the Caribbean. Three are occupied by Asian judges. Five judges are employed by judges from Western Europe and other Western states. Two judges are from East Asia. Usually, there’s a judge for each of the countries that are permanent members.

  • Ad Hoc Judges

The unplanned judges participate in any decision associated with the case in terms of total equality with their colleagues and receive compensation for every day they perform their duties, that is, every day spent within the Hague to participate within the work wiped out the Court.

A party must announce its intention to settle on a billboard hoc judge as soon as possible. In cases where there are quite two parties to the dispute, which isn’t uncommon, the rule is that the parties acting within the same interest are limited to one unplanned judge between them which, if one among them has already a judge of his nationality in court, they are doing not have the proper to settle on a billboard hoc judge. There are therefore various possibilities, the subsequent have actually occurred in practice: two ordinary judges having the citizenship of the parties; two unplanned judges; a standard judge of the nationality of 1 of the parties and a billboard hoc judge; neither a standard judge having the citizenship of 1 of the parties nor a billboard hoc judge.

  • President and Vice- President

After a period of 3 years, the court has to re-elect the President and the Vice- President. The Chair of President. The president has the power to sit in any proceeding of the court. The president directs the work to others and supervise the administration of the court.


The ICJ gives judgments according to International Law. There are many International statutes according to which the following can be applied-

  • International conventions which are recognized.
  • The general principle is recognized by civilized states.
  • International customs.
  • Any judicial decisions and highly qualifying teaching of various publicists from different nations.
  • The court can also apply the principle of equity according to the parties’ consent.


The purpose International court of justice is to resolve the dispute between the nations. The parties who are states approach the ICJ for providing a remedy. The judgment given by the International Court of Justice is binding on both parties. Every member of the UN has to follow the decision of an international court in which the UN acts as the party to the suit.

If the parties do not comply with the decision of the court the other party can approach the security council for the remedy. The security council can take necessary can make recommendations that will give effect to the judgment given by the court.


The International Court of Justice was established with the aim of resolving international issues and maintaining international peace. Although the tribunal cannot contribute directly to international law, it has contributed indirectly through the clarification and development of rules of the principle of international law. Hence, the court contributes to international law in two ways;

  • Resolving disputes
  • Developing rules for international law

The court has contributed immensely to international law although it cannot create any new law, the court can interpret, clarify, modify the rules of international law through its judgments. The court’s decision also contributed in terms of guidelines for states to follow for their international conduct.



The Rohingya genocide is a chain of persecutions by the government of Myanmar and the Buddhist community of Myanmar against the Muslim Rohingya community. Myanmar’s army and police have repressed Rohingya Muslims and failed to control growing Islamophobic feelings towards them. This has resulted in the deaths of thousands of Rohingya, the flight of refugees to other countries, the destruction of Rohingya villages, schools, and businesses, large-scale human rights violations by the military and gang rape, and other sexual violence against women and girls from the Rohingya community.

The Gambia (or the Republic of Gambia) had filed a lawsuit against Myanmar for the Rohingya genocides. It was noted by the ICJ that thousands of Rohingya refugees have been rendered stateless due to state-sponsored violence.

The court noted that the Rohingya were a “protected group” under Article II of the Genocide Convention. They said that despite Rohingya Muslims who lived in Myanmar before independence, they were “made stateless by the 1982 Citizenship Act and deprived of the right to vote in 2015 by electoral processes.”

The bench ruled that Myanmar must keep in mind the duties of genocide and ensure that all acts of prejudice against Rohingya Muslims are stopped.


The judgment of this case is being criticized to date. Let’s take a look at the case. One of the biggest violations of international law must be the West Bank wall built by Israel that cuts through Palestine’s communities, homes, and farmland. Under the pretext of protecting Israel from terrorism, the wall penetrates deep into the West Bank, which is the territory of Palestine. It tries to redefine the borders by annexing Palestine and therefore it is a grave violation not only of the sovereignty of Palestine but also of international law.

15 years ago, the ICJ ruled through an advisory opinion that the wall was illegal. While such views are not binding, they also said the wall violates international law and should be dismantled. He also said Israel should pay for the reparations. But such orders fell on deaf ears and Israel was unwilling to obey. The UN General Assembly tried to force Israel to cooperate, but that too was a failure.

To this day, the wall strangles the West Bank and the current government continues to expand it, pretending that the ruling of the International Court of Justice never happened.


The sole aim of ICJ is to resolve disputes between nations and maintain peace. Every country has its judicial system to resolve matters within the territory of the country.  The ICJ looks into the matter where two countries are involved and there is a difficulty in deciding the Jurisdiction of the case therefore, to deal with such cases ICJ is formed. The member and non-members of the UN both can appeal in the ICJ.

The International Court of Justice has contributed immensely to international law not only by resolving disputes but has also interpreted the laws and given them clarity through its judgments. The ICJ has provided fundamental judgments on various social issues around the world. The ICJ, as the main judicial body, has contributed a lot to maintaining peace in the world.


Author: Ishika Jain,
University of Petroleum and Energy Studies

Leave a Comment