Permanent International Court of Justice

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Seat of the Court of Justice in the Peace Palace in The Hague (2006)

The Permanent Court of International Justice ( StIGH ; English Permanent Court of International Justice , PCIJ ; French Cour permanente de Justice internationale , CPJI ) was an international court that existed from September 1922 to April 1946 and was based in the Dutch city ​​of The Hague . It was created on the basis of the statutes of the League of Nations , whose organs were also responsible for drafting the legal basis of the Court of Justice and the election of judges. With the end of the League of Nations after the Second World Warthe StIGH was also dissolved, its successor institution was the International Court of Justice, which was created as the main judicial organ of the United Nations in 1946 .


According to Article 14 of its statutes, one of the main tasks of the League of Nations was to establish a permanent international court of justice. The League of Nations set up an advisory committee for this purpose in 1920, which drafted a statute for this court. The first assembly of the League of Nations adopted this statute, and on December 16, 1920 it was presented in the form of a protocol to the member states of the League of Nations and other states for signature. In September 1921 the protocol and with it the statute came into force. The first meeting of the StIGH took place on February 15, 1922, under the chairmanship of the Dutch judge Bernard Loder . The court's first registrar was Åke Hammarskjöld , who was only 28 at the time and was elected judge himself in 1936. The court was housed together with the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague Peace Palace. Walther Schücking, an international lawyer from Münster, was the first permanent judge from Germany from 1930 until his death in exile in The Hague in 1935 .

The judges' elections planned for 1939 were no longer carried out because of the beginning of the Second World War . All judges in office at that time thus worked beyond the regular end of their term of office. In the first months of the war and in anticipation of the opening of a front in the west of the German Reich , the StIGH planned to leave The Hague en bloc with the help of the diplomatic corps and to restore the functioning of the court at another location. This did not happen when, with the sudden invasion of the Netherlands by German troops, Queen Wilhelmina , the government and the diplomatic representatives of the Allies left the city hastily on May 13, 1940. Some of the court's staff stayed in The Hague. Immediately after the armistice signed on May 15, 1940, the German authorities guaranteed the court the same diplomatic immunities that had previously been granted by the Netherlands, but revoked all rights of all diplomatic missions, including those of the StIGH, with effect from July 15, 1940 . On July 16, 1940, the non-Dutch staff of the court was taken to Bern , Switzerland , along with the remaining diplomatic corps on a special train . Until the end of the war, the court had an office in Geneva with just five employees and only performed administrative tasks.

In January 1946, the eleven remaining judges resigned. The Court of Justice was dissolved on April 18 of the same year by decision of the League of Nations Assembly, its successor being the International Court of Justice (ICJ). Insofar as previously concluded contracts justified the competence of the StIGH, these were transferred to the ICJ in accordance with Article 37 of the ICJ Statute; the same applies to declarations of submission in accordance with Article 36 of the ICJ Statute. José Gustavo Guerrero , the last StIGH president, assumed the same office at the International Court of Justice. In addition to him, the judges of the StIGH also elected the Belgian Charles De Visscher to the newly established International Court of Justice.


The Permanent International Court of Justice dealt with 29 interstate disputes between 1922 and 1940 and issued 27 expert opinions. Some of his decisions, such as those in the Wimbledon case of 1923 or the Lotus decision of 1927, were groundbreaking for the development of international law . The Court of Justice also helped clarify various aspects of international law.

The last procedural act of the court took place on March 7, 1940. In the Gerliczy proceedings brought by Liechtenstein against Hungary in 1939 , previously set deadlines for the submission of pleadings were extended. Due to the war, there were no further procedural steps; a request made to Liechtenstein after the war regarding the further progress of the dispute remained unanswered.


From September 1922, the Permanent International Court of Justice initially consisted of eleven judges and four auxiliary judges ( juges-suppléant ). It was the job of the assistant judges to represent the regular judges when they were not present. However, this post was abolished by an amendment to the judicial statute on February 1, 1936, increasing the number of judges to 15.

The judges served for a nine-year term and could be re-elected. The election was made by the Council and the Assembly of the League of Nations on the basis of proposals by the national groups of the Permanent Court of Arbitration . The President and Vice-President, whose terms were three years, were elected by the members of the Tribunal.


President of the Permanent International Court of Justice
# Surname Taking office Term expires Country of origin
1 Bernard Loder (1849-1935) 1921 1924 NetherlandsNetherlands Netherlands
2 Max Huber (1874-1960) 1925 1927 SwitzerlandSwitzerland Switzerland
3 Dionisio Anzilotti (1867–1950) 1928 1930 ItalyItaly Italy
4th Adachi Mineichirō (1870-1934) 1931 1934 JapanJapan Japan
5 Cecil Hurst (1870–1963) 1934 1936 United KingdomUnited Kingdom United Kingdom
6th José Gustavo Guerrero (1876-1958) 1937 1945 El SalvadorEl Salvador El Salvador


  • Heinz Lingemann: The Permanent International Court of Justice. Noske, Göttingen 1932.
  • News Department, Secretariat of the League of Nations (Ed.): The Permanent International Court of Justice. Rikola Verlag, Vienna 1923.
  • Åke Holmbaeck: The Permanent International Court of Justice in 1922–1929 . Gräfe & Unzer, Koenigsberg 1930.
  • Alexander P. Fachiri: The Permanent Court of International Justice: Its Constitution, Procedure and Work. Second edition. Humphrey Milford, London 1932.
  • Manley O. Hudson : The Permanent Court of International Justice 1920-1942: A Treatise. Second edition. MacMillan, New York 1943.
  • Ole Spiermann: International Legal Argument in the Permanent Court of International Justice: The Rise of the International Judiciary. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 2005.
  • Maxi Ines Carl: Between State Sovereignty and International Law Community - Germany's Position and Contribution to the Establishment of the Permanent International Court of Justice. Nomos Verlag, Baden-Baden 2012.

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