The war between Russia and Ukraine… Everything you need to know about the International Court of Justice

The International Court of Justice has updated the events of the Russian-Ukrainian war again, after the lawsuit of Kiev against Moscow, which is scheduled for the beginning of next week.

Therefore, in the following lines we discuss what is the International Court of Justice and what role does it play in such cases?

Where is the International Court of Justice?

The International Court of Justice, or the World Court, as it is sometimes called for short, is the main judicial body of the United Nations, with its headquarters in the Peace Palace in The Hague, Netherlands.

It was founded in 1945, and began operating the following year, after replacing the Permanent International Court of Justice, which was also located in the Peace Palace from 1922.

The Tribunal operates under a statute very similar to its predecessor, and the Tribunal’s statute is an annex and an integral part of the Charter of the United Nations.

The court is competent to adjudicate, in accordance with the provisions of international law, in legal disputes that arise between states, and to give advisory opinions on legal issues that may be referred to it by the organs of the United Nations and their specialized agencies.

The Court renders its decisions in accordance with valid international treaties and agreements, with international customs, general legal principles, court judgments and doctrines of the most important authors of international law as auxiliary means.

The Statute of the Court, which was established under the Charter of the United Nations, should be the main judicial instrument of the body and perform its functions in accordance with the provisions of this Statute.

Judges of the International Court of Justice

The tribunal consists of independent judges who are chosen by persons of high moral character who in their country possess the qualifications necessary for appointment to the highest judicial positions or legislators who are recognized as experts in international law, regardless of their nationality.

The court consists of 15 members, and cannot have more than one member who is a citizen of a particular country, and a person who can be considered a citizen of several countries for membership in the court is considered a citizen of the country in which he otherwise exercises civil and political rights, it is stated. on the website of the “United Nations” organization.

The members of the Tribunal are elected by the General Assembly and the Security Council from a list of persons proposed by the PCA national groups.

In the case of members of the United Nations not represented in the Permanent Court of Arbitration, candidates shall be nominated by national groups designated for that purpose by their governments under the same conditions as are provided for members of the Permanent Court of Arbitration under Article 44 of the Hague Convention for the Peaceful Settlement of International Disputes of 1907 .

Conditions of litigation before the International Court of Justice

The General Assembly shall determine the conditions under which a state that is a party to this Statute, but which is not a member of the United Nations, may, in the absence of a special agreement, participate in the election of members of the Court on the recommendation of the Council’s Security Commission.

Candidates who receive an absolute majority of the votes of the General Assembly and the Security Council shall be deemed elected, and any vote of the Security Council, whether to elect judges or to appoint members of the conference provided for in Article 12, shall be taken without distinction. between permanent and non-permanent members of the Security Council.

In the event that more than one citizen of the same country receives an absolute majority of the votes of the General Assembly and the Security Council, only the oldest of them will be considered elected.

No member of the Court may hold any political or administrative office, nor engage in any other profession of a professional nature, nor may any member of the Court act as an agent, adviser or attorney in any case.

No member may take part in making a decision in any case in which he has previously participated as an agent, adviser or lawyer of one of the parties, or as a member of a national or international tribunal, commission of inquiry or in any other capacity.

No member of the Court can be relieved of duty unless he is in agreement with the opinion of the other members, and has ceased to fulfill the required conditions, of which the secretary officially informs the secretary general.

The court elects the president and vice-president for a period of three years; They may be re-elected, and the members of the Court, when involved in the affairs of the Court, shall enjoy diplomatic privileges and immunities.

According to the United Nations website, only states can be parties to cases before the court.

The court may, subject to and in accordance with its rules, request information from public international organizations relevant to the cases before it, and receive such information provided by these organizations on their own initiative.

When the establishment of the founding act of a public international organization or an international treaty adopted on its basis is in dispute in a case before a court, the secretary shall inform the concerned public international organization thereof and deliver to it copies of all written acts.

Jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice

The Court’s jurisdiction includes all cases referred to it by the parties and all matters specifically provided for in the Charter of the United Nations or in applicable treaties and agreements.

If a treaty or convention in force provides for the referral of a case to a court established by the League of Nations or to the Permanent Court of International Justice, the case shall, in the relationship between the parties to this Statute, be referred to the International Court of Justice. justice.

The Court can decide on a dispute only if the respective states have accepted its jurisdiction in one of the following ways:

– By concluding a special agreement between the interested countries on bringing the dispute before the court.

– When the contract includes a clause that allows one of its parties to bring a dispute to court in the event of a dispute over the interpretation or application of the contract. There are more than 300 international treaties or agreements that contain such a provision.

– According to the unilateral declaration adopted by the states, since states can decide to issue a unilateral declaration recognizing the binding nature of the Court’s jurisdiction in relation to another state that accepts the same obligation according to a similar declaration.

– If the state party to the case does not recognize the jurisdiction of the Court at the time when the case is initiated against it, that state may later accept the jurisdiction of the Court in order to allow the Court to consider the case: therefore, the Court has jurisdiction from the date on which the jurisdiction of the Court is accepted to conduct the proceedings.

In case of doubt as to whether the court has jurisdiction, the court itself decides.

Cases of the International Court of Justice

In the Court’s report for the period from August 1, 2020 to July 31, 2021, among the disputed cases in progress were: the delimitation of maritime boundaries in the Indian Ocean (Somalia v. Kenya), and armed activities in the territory of the Congo (Democratic Republic of the Congo v. Uganda) , application of the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (Ukraine v. Russian Federation).

In April 2021, the Court celebrated the 75th anniversary of its inaugural session, which was held on 18 April 1946 in the Great Hall of Justice in the Peace Palace in The Hague.

The difference between the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court

The International Court of Justice deals with cases of conflict between different countries, but the International Criminal Court prosecutes those responsible for committing crimes.

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