Court Procedure

The International Court of Justice (“ICJ”) is an international organization that functions as the judicial branch of the United Nations.  The ICJ is sometimes called the World Court.  The ICJ was established in 1945 and has its headquarters at the Hague, Netherlands.

ICJ may entertain two types of cases:

  • Legal disputes between States (contentious cases)
  • Requests for advisory opinions on legal questions referred to it by United Nations organs and specialized agencies (advisory proceedings).

Contentious Proceedings may be instituted in one of two ways:

  • Through the notification of a special agreement: A document of a bilateral nature is  lodged with the Court by either of the States parties to the proceedings or by both of them.  A special agreement must indicate the subject of the dispute and the parties thereto.  There is neither an “applicant” State nor a “respondent” State, in the Court’s publications their names are separated by an oblique stroke at the end of the official title of the case, e.g., Benin/Niger;
  • By means of an application: An application, which is of a unilateral nature, is submitted by an applicant State against a respondent State.  In such proceedings, Rules of Court contain stricter requirements with respect to its content. Versus), e.g., Nicaragua v. Colombia.

A case may be brought to a conclusion at any stage of the proceedings by a settlement between the parties or by discontinuance.

Advisory proceedings before the Court are open solely to five organs of the United Nations and to 16 specialized agencies of the United Nations family.

A few days after the advisory request is filed, the Court draws up a list of those States and international organizations that will be able to furnish information on the question before the Court.  Advisory proceedings are concluded by the delivery of the advisory opinion at a public sitting.  The opinion of the court is not binding.


Inside Court Procedure