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Differences between the ICC and ICJ


The International Court of Justice (ICJ) and the International Criminal Court (ICC) are two important institutions dedicated to upholding human rights and humanitarian law. Think of them like special courts where they examine matters that involve laws beyond just regular ones. These two courts, both located in The Hague, Netherlands, might seem similar at first, but they have differences, especially when it comes to what they handle.

What is ICC?

The International Criminal Court (ICC) is like a permanent world court that deals with really serious crimes, like genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and aggression. It focuses on two big areas of international law that relate to how people are treated: human rights and humanitarian law.

So far, the ICC has looked into five situations where these kinds of crimes have happened: Northern Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Central African Republic, Darfur in Sudan, and the Republic of Kenya. The ICC has specific rules about what kinds of crimes it can deal with, where it can operate, when it can take action, and how it works. Importantly, the ICC is not part of the United Nations; it operates independently.

What is ICJ?

The International Court of Justice (ICJ), often called the World Court, is the main legal body of the United Nations responsible for resolving legal conflicts between countries. Additionally, it provides legal advice and opinions when requested by authorized international organizations, agencies, or the UN General Assembly. When a case is brought to the ICJ, it typically follows a standard process. The party initiating the case, known as the applicant, submits a written document called a memorial. This memorial outlines the reasons for the Court’s jurisdiction and the details of their legal claim.

What is the difference between ICC and ICJ?

BasisInternational Criminal CourtInternational Court of Justice
Relationship with the United NationsIndependent; UN Security Council may refer matters to itPrimary judicial branch of the UN.
Members105 members193 members (all members of the United Nations).
Derives authority fromThe Rome StatuteCharter of the United Nations and the Statute of the International Court of Justice.
Scope of workCriminal matters – investigating and prosecuting crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimesCivil matters- settling legal disputes between the member-states and giving advisory opinions on international legal issues
JurisdictionOnly the member nations of the ICC, which means around 105 countries. Can try individuals.All the member nations of the UN, which means 193 countries. Cannot try individuals and other private entities.
Composition1 prosecutor and 18 judges, who are elected for a 9-year term each by the member-states which make up the Assembly of State Parties with all being from different nations15 judges who are elected for a 9-year term each and are all from different nations.
FundingFunded by state parties to the Rome Statute and voluntary contributions from the United Nations, governments, individual corporations, etc.Funded by the UN.


The International Criminal Court and the International Court of Justice have several notable differences in their roles, ties to the United Nations, funding, jurisdiction, and more. While there’s much more to explore about these global organizations, we’ve highlighted their key features and distinctions above. Nevertheless, they share a common goal, which is to promote international peace and collaboration and ensure that the world operates within the bounds of the law.

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