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International Court of Justice

International Law and International Jurisdiction

At the end of the 19th century, governments met at the First Peace Conference at The Hague and decided to codify international law in treaties. Furthermore, they reached an agreement to establish the first permanent international court, the Permanent Court of Arbitration. However, as arbitration brings with it an air of ad hoc exceptional solutions, the international community soon decided to move towards international adjudication, where a court would implement international law. Article 14 of the Covenant of the League of Nations provided for the creation of a judicial body entrusted with two kinds of jurisdiction: contentious and advisory were clearly envisaged. In 1921, the predecessor of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the Permanent Court of International Justice (PCIJ) materialized. The PCIJ was dissolved in 1946 at the same time as the League of Nations.

The ICJ is an organ of the United Nations and the Statute of the International Court of Justice forms an integral part of the Charter of the United Nations. The court has functioned since 1945. It does not have compulsory international jurisdiction, and its main function remains to decide in accordance with international law all disputes submitted to it (Article 38).

Of course, the ICJ is not the only international court, there are many regional international courts, such as the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), and there are many specialized international courts, such as the International Criminal Court (ICC). Additionally, the ICJ, is not the only court that applies international law. Today, more and more national courts choose to apply international law for crimes that are defined according to the principles of international law. However, the ICJ remains the only court that continues the tradition of the Permanent Court of securing “the pacific settlement of international disputes.” (Guerrero, 1946).

Finding Aids and Other Research Resources

World Court Reports: A Collection of the Judgments, Orders, and Opinions of the Permanent Court of International Justice
(Hudson, Manley and Bacon, Ruth eds)

This publication in four volumes cover the PCIJ’s jurisdiction from 1922 through 1942.

2nd Fl Microfilm Cabinet 48 -- JX1975.A5 P91
Publications of the Permanent Court of International Justice

It contains judgments (Series A), advisory opinions (Series B), orders (A/B), pleadings, oral statements, (Series C), acts, and documents regarding the organization of the court (Series D) and annual reports (Series E). Our library has Series A, no. 1-24 (1923-30); Series B, no. 1-18 (1922-30); Series A/B, no. 40-80 (1931-40); Series C, no. 1-19, 52-88 (1922-39); Series D, no. 1-6; Series E, no. 1-16 (1922-45); Series F, no. 1-4.

2nd Floor – JX1976.C5 Am76 2003
Amr, Mohamed Sameh M. The Role of the International Court of Justice as the Principle Judicial Organ of the United Nations. (2003)

Published by Kluwer Law International, this is a concise overview of the role of the ICJ within the international community, and especially of its function of dispensing both advisory and contentious adjudication.