Functions of the Court

The Court has a twofold function:

  1. the settlement of disputes between states on the basis of international law.
  2. the delivery of advisory opinions on legal questions at the request of specifically authorized international organs.

It is to be noted that, according to its Statute, art.34(1), the International Court of Justice has jurisdiction only over disputes between states, not over individual guilt or innocence for violations of international codes of conduct.

Composition

The Court is composed of 15 permanent judges from different parts of the world. They are elected by the UN General Assembly and the Security Council for a term of nine years.

Every three years, five judges are elected. They hold their position in their personal capacity, although there have been geopolitical considerations. In fact, four of five of the permanent members of the Security Council have had a judge in the Court.

Programme of work

The Court usually holds plenary meetings, but it may from time to time form one or more chambers composed of three or more judges. A judgement given by any of the chambers shall be considered as rendered by the Court. The Court's decisions are binding on the parties.

Find documentation from ICJ

The website of the International Court of Justice contains information about the structure and composition of the Court with biographies of the Judges, news and background information, full text reports and documents and a list of cases referred to the Court since 1946 by date of introduction.

Literature

More on ICJ in the research guide by the Dag Hammarskjöld library (New York).

UN documents and publications in catalogues and databases

  • United Nations Digital Library offers UN documents and open access publications, UN voting data and speeches, UN maps, Content in 6+ languages. Replaces the traditional online catalogue UNBISnet.
  • UN iLibrary UN publications online covering different topics.
  • ODS full-text UN documents published from 1993 onward and scanned documents published between 1946 and 1993 in the official languages of the UN.
  • Daily list of documents (ODS). Documents published for the day, with full text links, can be found in the United Nations full text database ODS.
  • Index to proceedings is an annual bibliographic guide to the proceedings and documentation of the major UN organs. The index includes:
    • a list of all documents
    • a comprehensive subject index
    • an index to speeches
    • a voting chart of resolutions
  • United Nations Documents Index (United Nations Digital Library) References to all documents by subject area are published. A collection of indexes is held by the Dag Hammarskjöld and Law Library, Uppsala, and the Libraries at UN Headquarters in New York and Geneva.