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Composition & Jurisdictions Of International Court Of Justice

International Court of Justice (ICJ) is the successor of the Permanent Court of International Justice. The statute of Permanent...

International Court of Justice (ICJ) is the successor of the Permanent Court of International Justice. The statute of Permanent Court of Justice has been adopted for the International Court of Justice (hereinafter referred as ‘Court’). The establishment of the Court became necessary because to attain the end of International law there must be a judicial organ. So, the Court is the ‘Principle Judicial Organ’ of the International Organization.

The composition of the Court may be explained as under:

Strength: – Fifteen judges compose the Court, and the Court allows the election of only one judge from each state at a given time.

Qualifications: – The candidate for the office of judge in the Court shall possess the following qualifications:

  • He should be independent.
  • He should be a person of high moral character.
  • He must be qualified for the appointment of the highest judicial offices in his country.

Nature of the office: – The nature of the office of judge for the Court is elective. In other words, the General Assembly and Security Council shall elect the judges for the Court.

Election: – General Assembly and Security Council shall conduct the election of the judges of the Court independently, but simultaneously. These two organs shall elect the judges from the list of nominees prepared by the national groups in the Permanent Court of Arbitration.

Term of office: –The judge of the Court serves a term of nine years, with five of them retiring every three years. Consequently, authorities conduct elections every five years to fill these vacancies, ensuring that they maintain the total strength at fifteen.

Obligations of Judges: – A person who has been elected as a judge of the court is obligated to comply with the following:

  • refrain from all political and administrative functions,
  • refrain from being council, agent or advocate in any case, and
  • not participate in any case in which he has previously has taken part as agent, counsel or advocate for one of the parties.

Quorum of the Court: – The quorum of the Court is fixed at nine judges.

President of the Court: – After each period of three years the Court shall elect its president. The president shall preside the cases of the Court. But if in a case any party is his national he shall not be entitled to as act as president.

Vice-President of the Court: – Along with the election of the president the shall also elect its vice-president. Voice president shall act as president in a case where president is not present or where president is not entitle for presidency due to one of the parties to the case is being his national.

Chamber: – The Court is empowered to constitute a chamber, comprising a minimum of three members or such number as the Court deems appropriate. The Court may declare distinct chambers to handle different cases. The Court may constitute a chamber to deal with a particular case. The Court shall itself along with the approval of the parties to the case determine the chamber.

Ad hoc Judges: – The Court’s statute discloses the authority to appoint ad hoc judges in cases where there is no national judge of the party involved in the case.That party can appoint a national judge in that particular case.

Jurisdiction: –

Broadly speaking there are two kinds of jurisdiction of the Court – Contentious Jurisdiction, and Advisory Jurisdiction.

Contentious Jurisdiction

The court exercises ‘Contentious Jurisdiction’ when it decides a case with the consent of the parties involved. In international law, a fundamental principle dictates that a case shall not be referred to mediation or arbitration without the consent of any party. This rule, with some restrictions, also applies to the court’s jurisdiction. In other words, the court cannot initiate proceedings solely based on one party filing a case; instead, the consent of both parties is necessary for the initiation of the case. Contentious Jurisdiction encompasses three kinds:

a. Voluntary Jurisdiction.
b. Ad hoc Jurisdiction.
c. Compulsory Jurisdiction.

i). Voluntary Jurisdiction

Parties confer Voluntary Jurisdiction on a court by virtue of an agreement or treaty. In other words, when parties to a treaty or a contract stipulate that they will refer any dispute arising from such treaty or contract to the court for settlement, this type of jurisdiction is termed voluntary jurisdiction. So, in voluntary jurisdiction the parties to a dispute give their assent for the jurisdiction of the Court in advance.

ii). Ad hoc Jurisdiction

The parties confer ad hoc jurisdiction on the court after the occurrence of the dispute, and the court has no right to take up the case in such instances.

iii). Compulsory Jurisdiction

Compulsory Jurisdiction refers to the type of jurisdiction that the court possesses without the consent of the parties.Classic international law did not incorporate the concept of the court’s Compulsory Jurisdiction, but recent discussions suggest that it is time to confer compulsory jurisdiction upon the court. In the case of Compulsory Jurisdiction, the court would be given the authority to initiate a case without the consent of the parties, akin to municipal courts.However, the application of Compulsory Jurisdiction at the universal level still depends on the approval of the nation-states. The procedure for implementing the Compulsory Jurisdiction of the court has also been specified.

Advisory Jurisdiction

Advisory Jurisdiction means that the jurisdiction of the Court by which it may only give an advisory opinion on a question of law. This does not require the consent of the parties to a case but when any International Institute (General Assembly or Security Council) ask the Court to give an advisory opinion on the question. This opinion is not binding on the parties. So, the case may be referred by an international organization or by any organs within the scope of their activities.

Read Also : International Court Of Justice – ICJ

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