International Court of Justice

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International Court of Justice

Seal of the International Court of Justice

United Nations flag

Office building of the International Court of Justice in The Hague (2006)
English name International Court of Justice (ICJ)
French name Cour Internationale de Justice (CIJ)
Seat of the organs The Hague , NetherlandsNetherlandsNetherlands 
Chair SomaliaSomalia Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf
(Judge and President of the International Court of Justice)


Upper organization

United NationsU.N. United Nations

The International Court of Justice (short ICJ ; French Cour internationale de Justice , CIJ , English International Court of Justice , ICJ ) is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations and is based in the Peace Palace in the Netherlands The Hague . Its functioning and competence are regulated in the Charter of the United Nations , part of which is the statute of the International Court of Justice ( Federal Law Gazette 1973 II pp. 430, 505 ).


Map of the states that have submitted a declaration of submission to the ICJ

Parties to the International Court of Justice can only be states , but not international organizations or other subjects of international law . Only contracting states to the ICJ Statute have access to the court. According to Article 93 Paragraph 1 of the Charter of the United Nations, these are, on the one hand, all UN members and, on the other hand, those states that are not members of the UN but have ratified the statute .

The court is only competent to decide a case if all parties involved have recognized the jurisdiction. Such recognition can take place through a declaration for the respective procedure, through reference in an international treaty or in abstract form through a declaration of submission. However, such declarations are often subject to far- reaching reservations , such as the restriction formulated in the so-called Connally reservation of the United States ' declaration of submission, which was valid from 1946 to 1986 , that the recognition of the jurisdiction of the ICJ by the USA should not apply to matters that the USA believes would be subject to the jurisdiction of their national courts. The decisions of the ICJ are binding inter partes , ie for the parties involved.

Sub-organizations of the United Nations can request legal opinions on relevant topics from the IGH with the respective authorization by the General Assembly . The General Assembly or the UN Security Council can request an expert opinion on any legal issue. Although there were only 76 judgments and 24 legal opinions by 2003 , the ICJ was significantly involved in the further development of international law .

In 2008, Germany made a declaration of submission, like 73 other states so far, and since then has been able to sue another state that has also made such a declaration in all disputes under international law or be sued by that state itself. Before that, this was only possible if there was a contractual agreement between the two parties expressly designating the International Court of Justice, or if there was at least an agreement to settle the dispute before it. Germany has excluded armed forces deployed abroad and the use of German sovereign territory for military purposes from the declaration of submission.

Luxembourg had already recognized the jurisdiction of the StIGH as compulsory in 1930 . With regard to the ICJ, Switzerland followed in 1948, Liechtenstein in 1950, and Austria in 1971.


First session of the Court after the war, Dutch cinema news from 1946

In 1930 well-known American scholars and lawyers made an appeal to the League of Nations , in which they proposed a world court with the versatile lawyer John H. Wigmore as judge. The International Court of Justice emerged from the Permanent International Court of Justice (StIGH), which existed as a forerunner from 1922 to 1946 . The International Court of Justice was established in 1945. It works under the Charter of the United Nations as the “main judicial body of the United Nations” (Art. 92). On October 15, 1946, the Security Council, with Resolution 9, made it possible for states that were not members of the Statute to appeal to the Court of Justice.

The Corfu Canal Case , a lawsuit brought by the United Kingdom against Albania, closed in 1949 , was the first case in which the Court delivered a judgment.

Recent studies show that most of the judgments of the Court of Justice are obeyed, even if the Court of Justice depends on the United Nations Security Council to enforce its decisions (Article 94.2 of the Charter of the United Nations). However, several states have not recognized or followed decisions of the International Court of Justice in the past. a .:

  • 1971: The Republic of South Africa violates the resolution to abandon the occupation of Namibia .
  • 1973: France violates an injunction by the judges in connection with the then above-ground nuclear weapons tests on the Mururoa Atoll in the Pacific.
  • Morocco did not organize a referendum on the nationality of the former Spanish colony of Western Sahara , which was recommended in the 1975 opinion of the International Court of Justice.
  • 1984: The USA declares the court in the case of "Military and paramilitary activities in and against Nicaragua " not to have jurisdiction, as its own security concerns would prevent recognition of the judgment.
  • In 2006, the United States Supreme Court ruled Sanchez-Llamas v. Oregon, in express departure from the ICJ rulings in the Avena case (Mexico versus the United States), confirms the application of preclusive provisions of American law, which assert a violation of the duty to provide information about consular protection to foreigners in the second instance or in proceedings before federal courts make it practically impossible.

Previous procedures

With the participation of German-speaking countries

Germany has called the IGH four times so far. The first case (1967–69 with the participation of Denmark and the Netherlands ) concerned mining rights in the continental shelf under the North Sea . In the second case (1972–74; the opponent was Iceland ), the fishing industry was judged. The third case was the " LaGrand Case " against the United States (1999–2001). In the fourth case, Germany filed a lawsuit against Italy in 2008 because Germany had been sentenced by Italian courts to pay compensation for Nazi crimes . Greece joined the proceedings in 2011 because Greek courts had also sentenced Germany to compensation for Nazi crimes, but the enforcement of these judgments was not permitted in Greece, only in Italy. In 2012, the court ruled that Italy had violated Germany's immunity - also because of the enforcement of the Greek claims. Italy was also condemned by the ICJ to override the court rulings against Germany.

As a defendant, Germany has so far been involved in proceedings twice. 1999–2004 it was about the Kosovo conflict . The subject of the lawsuit filed by the Principality of Liechtenstein in 2001 was the handling of Liechtenstein assets on the territory of the former Czechoslovakia , which were treated as German foreign assets in connection with the Second World War and used to settle German war debts . The proceedings ended in 2005 with the decision that Liechtenstein's claims should not be directed against Germany. The German judge Bruno Simma , who was acting at the court during the proceedings, did not take part in the decision because of personal bias, as he had previously acted as legal advisor to the German government in this case. Instead of Simma, Carl-August Fleischhauer , who had worked at the court until 2003, was an ad hoc member of the court in these proceedings .

Liechtenstein has been involved in two and Switzerland in three proceedings. Austria and Luxembourg have not yet appeared before the ICJ.

Internationally significant cases


The 15 judges of the court, who must all be of different nationalities , are jointly elected by the UN General Assembly and the UN Security Council for a term of office of nine years, with the possibility of re-election at a later date. The term of office of the judges ends on February 5th of the specified year. When electing, the states pay attention to a geographical representation of the five regions of the world that has been defined in advance in the form of agreements . This means that after a certain rotation, vacant judges' positions are filled by candidates from one region. A third of the judges are re-elected every three years. In their case law , the judges do not represent their country, but have to judge completely independently. The standard is international law.

If no national of a state involved is a member of the court in a legal dispute, a judge proposed by that state can take part in the proceedings on an ad hoc basis . Then the number of members increases to up to 17.

As of June 23, 2018, the following judges belong to the International Court of Justice:

The management of the office and the administration of the International Court of Justice and thus the administrative responsibilities are incumbent on the registrar . The Belgian lawyer Philippe Gautier has held this office since August 2019 .


President of the International Court of Justice
No. Surname Taking office Term expires Country of origin
1 José Gustavo Guerrero (1876-1958) 1946 1949 El SalvadorEl Salvador El Salvador
2 Jules Basdevant (1877-1968) 1949 1952 France 1946Fourth French Republic France
3 Arnold Duncan McNair (1885-1975) 1952 1955 United KingdomUnited Kingdom United Kingdom
4th Green H. Hackworth (1883-1973) 1955 1958 United StatesUnited States United States
5 Helge Klæstad (1885-1965) 1958 1961 NorwayNorway Norway
6th Bohdan Winiarski (1884–1969) 1961 1964 PolandPoland Poland
7th Sir Percy Claude Spender (1897–1985) 1964 1967 AustraliaAustralia Australia
8th José Luis Bustamante y Rivero (1894-1989) 1967 1970 PeruPeru Peru
9 Sir Muhammad Zafrullah Khan (1893–1985) 1970 1973 PakistanPakistan Pakistan
10 Manfred Lachs (1914–1993) 1973 1976 PolandPoland Poland
11 Eduardo Jiménez de Aréchaga (1918–1994) 1976 1979 UruguayUruguay Uruguay
12 Sir Humphrey Waldock (1904-1981) 1979 1981 United KingdomUnited Kingdom United Kingdom
13 Taslim Olawale Elias (1914–1991) 1981 1985 NigeriaNigeria Nigeria
14th Nagendra Singh (1914–1988) 1985 1988 IndiaIndia India
15th José María Ruda (1924–1994) 1988 1991 ArgentinaArgentina Argentina
16 Robert Yewdall Jennings (1913-2004) 1991 1994 United KingdomUnited Kingdom United Kingdom
17th Mohammed Bedjaoui (* 1929) 1994 1997 AlgeriaAlgeria Algeria
18th Stephen M. Schwebel (* 1929) 1997 2000 United StatesUnited States United States
19th Gilbert Guillaume (* 1930) 2000 2003 FranceFrance France
20th Shi Jiuyong (born 1926) 2003 2006 China People's RepublicPeople's Republic of China People's Republic of China
21st Rosalyn Higgins (born 1937) 2006 2009 United KingdomUnited Kingdom United Kingdom
22nd Hisashi Owada (* 1932) 2009 2012 JapanJapan Japan
23 Peter Tomka (* 1956) 2012 2015 SlovakiaSlovakia Slovakia
24 Ronny Abraham (* 1951) 2015 2018 FranceFrance France
25th Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf (* 1948) 2018 officiating SomaliaSomalia Somalia


(in chronological order)

  • Hans Wehberg  : The Problem Of An International Court Of Justice. At The Clarendon Press, Oxford 1918 ( digitized in the Internet Archive , English).
  • Arthur Eyffinger, Arthur Witteveen, Mohammed Bedjaoui : La Cour internationale de Justice 1946–1996. Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, The Hague / London 1999, ISBN 90-411-0468-2 (French).
  • Shabtai Rosenne : The World Court: What It is and How It Works. 6th edition. Nijhoff, Leiden 2003, ISBN 90-04-13633-9 (English).
  • Constanze Schulte: Compliance with Decisions of the International Court of Justice. Oxford University Press, Oxford 2004, ISBN 0-19-927672-2 (English).
  • Moritz Karg: IGH vs. ISGH. The relationship between two international dispute settlement bodies. Nomos, Baden-Baden 2005, ISBN 3-8329-1445-5 .
  • Andreas Zimmermann u. a. (Ed.): The Statute of the International Court of Justice - A Commentary. Oxford University Press, Oxford 2006, ISBN 0-19-926177-6 (English).
  • German Society for the United Nations (Ed.): The International Court of Justice (IHG). (= UN basic information, No. 38). DGVN, Berlin 2007, ISSN  1614-5453 ( PDF ).
  • German Society for the United Nations (ed.): Charter of the United Nations and Statute of the International Court of Justice. DGVN, Berlin 2016, pp. 69–99 ( PDF ).

Web links

Commons : International Court of Justice  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. List of states that recognize the compulsory jurisdiction of the ICJ according to Art. 36 Paragraph 2 of the ICJ Statute, online ( memento of August 15, 2017 in the Internet Archive ) (English), accessed on July 31, 2017.
  2. Wording of the declaration of submission PDF; 1 MB (p. 38); BT-Drs. 16/9218 (PDF; 73 kB)
  3. For criticism of these reservations, see the open letter PDF; 1 MB (p. 39) from the ver.di trade union dated June 10, 2008.
  4. LNTS vol. C p. 154 ( Memento dated February 6, 2009 in the Internet Archive ) (cf. Art. 36, Paragraph 5 of the ICJ Statute)
  5. UNTS vol. 17 p. 116 ( Memento of December 1, 2011 in the Internet Archive ); → German version
  6. UNTS vol. 51 p. 120 ( Memento of December 1, 2011 in the Internet Archive ); LGBl. 1950 No. 6/1
  7. UNTS vol. 778 p. 302 ( Memento of December 1, 2011 in the Internet Archive ); Federal Law Gazette No. 249/1971
  8. ^ Günter Spendel : The legal scholar Josef Kohler and the University of Würzburg. In: Peter Baumgart (Ed.): Four hundred years of the University of Würzburg. A commemorative publication. Degener & Co. (Gerhard Gessner), Neustadt an der Aisch 1982 (= sources and contributions to the history of the University of Würzburg. Volume 6), ISBN 3-7686-9062-8 , pp. 461–482; here: p. 464.
  9. ^ Encyclopedia of the Nations: The International Court of Justice - Some case histories of disputes submitted to the court. Retrieved November 8, 2009 .
  10. North Sea Continental Shelf (Federal Republic of Germany / Denmark) ( Memento from February 6, 2009 in the Internet Archive )
  11. North Sea Continental Shelf (Federal Republic of Germany / Netherlands) ( Memento from February 7, 2009 in the Internet Archive )
  12. Fisheries Jurisdiction (Federal Republic of Germany v. Iceland) ( Memento from February 6, 2009 in the Internet Archive )
  13. LaGrand (Germany v. United States of America) ( Memento from February 7, 2009 in the Internet Archive )
  14. Jurisdictional Immunities of the State (Germany v. Italy: Greece intervening) ( Memento from February 4, 2015 in the Internet Archive )
  15. Legality of Use of Force (Serbia and Montenegro v. Germany) ( Memento from February 7, 2009 in the Internet Archive )
  16. Certain Property (Liechtenstein v. Germany) ( Memento from February 7, 2009 in the Internet Archive )
  17. ^ Certain Property (Liechtenstein v. Germany) (see above); Nottebohm (Liechtenstein v. Guatemala) ( Memento from 7 February 2009 in the Internet Archive ) (1951–55)
  18. ^ Interhandel (Switzerland v. United States of America) ( Memento of February 7, 2009 in the Internet Archive ) (1957–59); Status vis-à-vis the Host State of a Diplomatic Envoy to the United Nations (Commonwealth of Dominica v. Switzerland) ( Memento from February 4, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) (2006); Jurisdiction and Enforcement of Judgments in Civil and Commercial Matters (Belgium v. Switzerland) ( Memento from February 4, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) (2009-2011)
  19. RECUEIL DES ARRÊTS, AVIS CONSULTATIFS ET ORDONNANCES ( Memento of January 13, 2013 in the Internet Archive )
  21. ^ Affaire relative au Procès de prisonniers de guerre pakistanais ( Memento of February 4, 2015 in the Internet Archive )
  22. AFFAIRE DE LA DÉLIMITATION DE LA FRONTIÈRE MARITIME DANS LA RÉGION DU GOLFE DU MAINE ( Memento from January 11, 2012 in the Internet Archive )
  23. Archived copy ( Memento of February 3, 2014 in the Internet Archive )
  24. No. 32193 ( Memento from December 18, 2008 in the Internet Archive )
  25. The Court finds that Greece, by objecting to the admission of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to NATO, has breached its obligation under Article 11, paragraph 1, of the Interim Accord of 13 September 1995 ( Memento of 11 January 2012 on the Internet Archives )
  26. verdict in Grenzzstreit. Court rejects Bolivia's right to sea access , October 1, 2018.

Coordinates: 52 ° 5 ′ 11.8 "  N , 4 ° 17 ′ 43.8"  E