United Nations Government Information

International Court of Justice

International Court of Justice (ICJ) is the main judicial organ of the United Nations. All members of the U.N. are under the Court's Statute. The Court judges by international conventions and treaties, customs and principal of the law. The Court is composed of 15 indepedent judges of different nationalities elected by the General Assembly and Security Council, who serve nine-year terms. A President and Vice-President of the Court are elected by the judges. Judgement is decided by a majority vote, and the Court's decision is final. If one party fails to abide by the decision, the other party can address the Security Council with the matter. (See General Information - The Court at a Glance and International Court of Justice: Basic Documents )

Contentious and advisory cases can be brought before the court. A contentious case is a legal dispute between states. The states agree to abide by the ruling. However, a state can unilaterally bring another state to court if there is a compulsory option in a treaty that both states are partyt to. An advisory case is where international organs and agencies ask for opinions on legal questions. The ruling is non-binding. Check the Docket to see which cases are presently at the U.N.

For contentious cases, the procedings have a written phase, where the parties file and exchange pleadings . Memorial are initially given that state the reason for the Court's jurisdiction and Merits of the case, i.e., why the case should be heard. The oral phase is the public hearings where counsels address the Court. The Court can issue Orders , which are usually procedural, such as the filing of a document, or even provisional measures for a case, such as Order of 15 December 1979 Provisional Measures , whereby the Court ordered the immediate release of the U.S. hostages taken by Iran in 1979.. The Court then deliberates and delivers its judgement or final decision.



About This Resource

Documentation of cases, from Memorials to Judgements, are given by year, date, and General List number .

For Example, 1979 15 December General List No. 64 "Order of 15 December 1979 Provisional Measures" is the Order to release the American hostages in 1979. However, searching by the name of the case is more than adequate since there are relative few Court documents.

Digital Paper

International Court of Justice: List of Cases brought before the Court since 1946 has full-text or summaries of judgements of contentious cases and opinions of advisory cases. Each entry includes procedural documents of the cases, for example orders and press releases.

In Josiah , do a Title search for Pleadings, oral arguments and documents , which has cases with decisions until 1990.



International Criminal Court , based on the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court on 17 July 1998, this new international criminal court was recently established to encourage the rule of law and punish international crimes. This court is to be independent of the U.N.

International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) , established in 1993 by the Security Council, this tribunal is to prosecute crimes against humanity committeed in the former Yugoslavia. It's judges are elected by the General Assembly.

International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) , established in 1994 by the Security Council, this tribunal is to prosecute crimes against humanity committeed in the Rwanda. It's judges are elected by the General Assembly.



Press Releases are a good source of basic information about U.N. activity. Search under International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Subject field. You can then delimit by keyword. So, following this procedure, a keyword search with the United States would bring up press releases of the ICJ dealing


Documents Rearch Guide The U.N. has published online a very good and detailed research guide for the ICJ.

Report of the International Court of Justice is a summary of the court procedures and cases for that year which is presented to the General Assembly.

About This Resource

In UNBISnet, search under U.N. Doc Symbol for A/session number/4 in quotes. Full-text copies are from the 48th session (1992/93) to the 60th session (2004/05). So, a search for "A/50/4" returns a copy for of the Report of the Internationl Court of Justice to the General Assembly for the 50th session (1994/95).

For paper copies, you can search by the year or session of the General Assembly. This report is always Supplement No. 4.

Digital Version Paper Version

Report of the International Court of Justice

UNBISnet has full-text back to 1992.

Official Records of the General Assembly publishes the Annual Report in Supplement No. 4.

Reports of judgments, advisory opinions, and orders is a series of ICJ reports. Also, the UNBISnet Search for this report has many entries, but they need to be borrowed from another library.

Yearbook of the United Nations is an annual publication of the U.N. that gives a very good summary of the events and documents produced that year at the U.N.


Don't forget! You can always consult me, Tom Stieve , or send an Interlibrary Loan request for the item if it's not here.


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