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International Courts

International courts have  global jurisdiction over international issues.  These courts  apply international conventions, international custom, and general principles of law recognized by civilized nations, while deciding cases. They may also refer to specific academic writing and previous judicial decisions to help interpret the law in question before it.

International courts are formed by treaties between nations, or under the authority of an international organization such as the United Nations.  They include ad hoc tribunals and permanent institutions, but exclude the courts arising purely under national authority.

International Courts may exercise jurisdiction over any State, international organization or other collectivities and private person only if they have recognized its jurisdiction.  Moreover international courts such as the International Court of Justice restrict its jurisdiction to its member states alone; therefore, international organizations, collectivities or a private person are not entitled to institute proceedings before the court.

On the other hand, courts like the International Criminal Court has a mandate to try individuals rather than States and to hold them accountable for the most serious crimes of concern to the international community such as genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, and, eventually, the crime of aggression.

Certain international courts, such as the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda dealing with genocide, usually have their jurisdiction restricted to a particular country or issue.

Inside International Courts