The International Court of Justice is an organ of the United Nations Organization, which has
its headquarters at the Peace Palace in The Hague. The Court was established in article 92 of
the United Nations Charter, which states, "The International Court of Justice constitutes the
chief judicial organ of the United Nations. It shall function by a Statute based on the Statute
of the Permanent Court of International Justice and annexed to the present Charter, of which
it is an integral part”.
The primary function of the International Court of Justice is to settle legal disputes submitted
to it by states and to give opinions on legal questions raised by the United Nations General
Assembly, the United Nations Security Council, or specialized bodies and agencies accredited
by the UN Assembly. Its founding took place in 1945 through the UN Charter, and the Court
began functioning the following year. The main constitutional document is the Statute of the
International Court of Justice. Up to the present day, the International Court of Justice has yet
to deal with many cases.
The International Court of Justice comprises fifteen judges elected for nine-year terms by the
UN General Assembly and the Security Council. Its official languages are English and French.
The General Assembly and the Security Council vote simultaneously but separately, so to be
elected, a candidate must receive an absolute majority of the votes of both bodies. To
maintain continuity, one-third of the court is elected every three years, but a special ballot
may be held if any judges die or retire.
All countries that are part of the Statute of the Court have the right to propose candidates
through a panel of members of the Permanent Court of Arbitration appointed by the
countries. These judges must be persons of high moral character with the necessary
qualifications to hold high judicial office in their own country or be consultants of recognized
competence in public international law.
Furthermore, no member of the International Court of Justice is permitted to hold any other
office during their term at the Court. They are then barred from holding any other political or
administrative office or acting as agents, counsel, or advocates in any case. And although
there is no obligation for the Court to be permanently in session, the President of the Court is
obliged to live in Hague.
The International Court of Justice can then take on two types of cases: legal disputes
submitted by countries and requests for advisory opinions on legal questions raised by UN
bodies or specialized agencies. For the former cases, the Court's decisions are final and
binding on all countries that accept its jurisprudence and derive from international law. The International Court of Justice's primary function is to find the solution, per international
law, to legal disputes submitted by countries. It also offers advisory opinions on legal
questions that authorized bodies of the United Nations and other specialized agencies may
Examples of cases that the International Court of Justice has tried are the cases on whaling in
Antarctica, the obligation to negotiate access to the Pacific Ocean, aerial spraying of
herbicides, some activities carried out by Nicaragua at the border, issues concerning the
obligation to prosecute or extradite between Belgium and Senegal, and others.
The International Court of Justice then demonstrates its importance in the international
scenario to solve international conflicts to generate global pacification.