What is the ICJ?
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations (UN). It was established in June 1945 by the Charter of the United Nations and began work in April 1946.
The seat of the Court is at the Peace Palace in The Hague (Netherlands). Of the six principal organs of the United Nations, it is the only one not located in New York (United States of America).
What is the role of the Court?
The Court’s role is to settle, in accordance with international law, legal disputes submitted to it by States and to give advisory opinions on legal questions referred to it by authorized United Nations organs and specialized agencies.
Who are the judges?
The Court is composed of 15 judges, who are elected for terms of office of nine years by the United Nations General Assembly and the Security Council. It is assisted by a Registry, its administrative organ. Its official languages are English and French.
How does the International Court of Justice differ from other international courts?
The International Court of Justice differs from the European Court of Justice (the seat of which is in Luxembourg), whose role is to interpret European Community legislation uniformly and rule on its validity, as well as from the European Court of Human Rights (in Strasbourg, France) and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (in San José, Costa Rica), which deal with allegations of violations of the human rights conventions under which they were set up. As well as applications from States, those three courts can entertain applications from individuals, which is not possible for the International Court of Justice. The jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice is general and thereby differs from that of specialist international tribunals, such as the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS). Lastly, the Court is not a supreme court to which national courts can turn; it does not act as a court of last resort for individuals. Nor is it an appeal court for any international tribunal. It can, however, rule on the validity of arbitral awards.
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