The International Court of Justice (The World Court), located at the Peace Palace in The Hague (Netherlands), was established in conjunction with theUnited Nationsin 1946. The World Court has two primary functions: settle in accordance with international law the legal disputes brought to it by individual countries give advisory opinions on legal questions referred to it by authorized international organs and agencies
Fifteen judges, elected to 9-year terms by the UN General Assembly and the UN Security Council sit on the World Court. Instead of the title of Chief Justice, like the United States Supreme Court and the state supreme courts, the head of the World Court carries the title of President. Every effort is made for the “composition of the Court… to reflect the main forms of civilization and the principal legal systems of the world” (International Court of Justice, n.d.). Decisions of the Court are based on “international treaties and conventions in force, international custom, and the general principles of law and, as subsidiary means, judicial decisions and the teachings of the most highly qualified publicists” (Simic, 2009).
The World Court hears civil law cases brought to it by countries that are members of the United Nations. Neither you or I nor businesses appear before the Court; it is designed to settle disputes between nations. The entire International Court of Justice system is voluntary, however.
The following describes how the jurisdiction is defined: The countries involved in the disputes must agree to submit their dispute to the Court. Through the reciprocal effect of declarations made by a country under a Statute whereby each has accepted the jurisdiction of the Court as compulsory in the event of a dispute with another country having had a similar declaration By virtue of a jurisdictional clause contained in a document such as a treaty, whereby the countries have accepted the jurisdiction, in the event of a disagreement over the treaty’s interpretation or application
Beginning in 1999, the number of cases coming before the Court has risen dramatically. During the 1970s, the Court had only one or two cases on its docket at any one time. Between 1990 and 1997 it averaged 11 cases. According to the report dated July 31, 2000 to the United Nations, 23 cases were pending before the Court. Their subject-matter is varied, ranging from territorial disputes between neighboring countries to a decision as to which country has sovereignty over a particular area or a country complaining of treatment suffered by one or more of its citizens by a second country. Currently, the World Court has a yearly budget of $10 million dollars.
Once the Court makes a decision, compliance is also voluntary. Since its inception in 1946, more than one country has chosen to ignore the Court’s decision because the finding was not in their favor.
Use the library or other online resources to help answer the following questions: Is the International Court of Justice the first world court? What are the procedures of the World Court? Are they similar to any U.S. court? What is an advisory opinion?