In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section International Court of Justice

  • Introduction
  • Chambers of the Court
  • Procedure in General
  • Advisory Procedure
  • The Sources of the Law Applied by the Court
  • Evidence, Fact-Finding, and Burden of Proof
  • Jurisprudence
  • Relations with Other Tribunals
  • Proposals for Reform

International Law International Court of Justice
Hugh Thirlway, Cristina Hoss
  • LAST REVIEWED: 30 November 2015
  • LAST MODIFIED: 30 November 2015
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199796953-0125


The International Court of Justice (ICJ, the Court) is a principal organ of the United Nations, along with the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council, the Trusteeship Council, the General Assembly, and the Secretariat; it is defined as the “principal judicial organ” of the organization (UN Charter, Art. 92). Its operation is governed by its Statute, which is annexed to the Charter and “forms an integral part” of it (UN Charter, Art. 92). It is composed of fifteen judges elected by the Security Council and the General Assembly for a term of office of nine years (renewable); the required qualifications for election are laid down in the Statute, which also provides that the electors are to bear in mind that “in the body as a whole the representation of the main forms of civilization and of the principal legal systems of the world should be assured” (Art. 9). Only states may be parties to cases before it; it is open to those that are parties to its Statute (which includes all UN member states). Its jurisdiction “comprises all cases which the parties refer to it and all matters specially provided for” in treaties (including the UN Charter). The Statute provides for a system of compulsory jurisdiction as between states that accept this by means of a formal declaration (often qualified by reservations). The decisions of the Court are binding; it also has power to give nonbinding advisory opinions at the request of bodies “authorized by or in accordance with the [UN] Charter . . . to make such a request.” These include the Security Council and the General Assembly and other organs and specialized agencies so authorized by the General Assembly.

General Works

The works cited here deal in general terms, in chronological order, with the International Court of Justice and its predecessor, the Permanent Court of International Justice.

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