The International Court of Justice was constituted by the Charter of the United Nations and by the Statute of the Court, both of the instruments being signed on June 26, 1945, in San Francisco, USA (Jennings 1995, p. 493). The Court replaced the Permanent Court of International Justice and was created with the aim of serving as the principal arm of United Nations Organization. The statute of the new Court was enforced on October 24, 1945, its members where elected by UN General Assembly and Security Council and its first meeting was convened at the Peace Palace, Hague on April 1, 1946 (Jennings 1995, p. 493, Lissitzyn 1951).
The importance of an effective legal body was duly recognized for the effective functioning and operation of United Nations Organization. Without an agency that has legal technical expertise and authority to resolve international disputes and controversies, United Nations could not hope to achieve its objectives of creating a peaceful and harmonious world. The International Court of Justice was created with this objective of providing UNO with a judicial arm.
UNO was constituted with the primary purpose of international peace and security, following the failure of The League of the Nations and subsequent tragedy of the Second World War. To this aim it was necessary that UNO should be capable for 1. 1) The creation and maintenance of conditions conducive to peaceful relations among states and to a general feeling of security; (2) peaceful settlement or adjustment of inter- national disputes and situations likely to disturb friendly relations between states; (3) effective action to prevent or suppress breaches of the peace. ( Lissitzyn 1951, 2)
The interrelated nature of these problems demanded a cohesive interaction among nation of world on rather unprecedented level. It also required from them the necessity to recognize the importance of a world based on order and discipline so that rights of different nations and nations are not infringed. However, the actual transformation of these principles into one common working law was extremely technical and complicated work, one that always had scope of ambiguous interpretations. To the end, the International Court of Justice appealed to all the countries, tired from years of instability, wars, and disputes.
It was more perceived to be effective than an arbitrary tribunal, created to resolve disputes concerning among nations. According to the Statute of The International Court of Justice, The Court is a body of independent judges that possess highest quality and competency to hold the highest judicial position in the world (Article 2). The Court comprises of 15 members, no two of which can belong to the same country (Article 3). Article 4 of the Statute makes the elections of members a responsibility of the UN General Assembly and the Security Council.
The members are elected for a period of 9 years and for this period they are barred from exercising any political or administrative function, or engage in any other occupation of a professional nature (Article 13, 17). On the issue of competence the Statute of The Court allows only states to be parties in the cases before the court and jurisdiction of The Court comprises all cases which the parties refer to it and all matters specially provided for in the Charter of the United Nations or in treaties and conventions in force (Article 36).
In cases of International disputes, Article 38 of the Statues states that The Court shall apply 1. International convention, general or particular, that establishes rules expressly recognized by contesting states 2. International customs 3. General principle of law as recognized in the civilized world 4. Reference to judicial decisions and teachings of most highly qualified jurists and legal academicians to determine the rules of law. The Statute also states that if members of the UN fail to comply with the judgment of The Court, the final decision is referred to the Security Council of the UN.
As stated in the Chapter 3 of the Statute, disputes are brought before The Court by consenting parties, and generally the nature of disputes concerns the interpretation of treaties, question of international laws, and breaches of international obligation. The success of The International Court of Justice has always crucially depends upon agreement of members of United Nations. To ensure its efficacy The Court has a membership that is stable and widely represents major countries and legal systems of world (Lissitzyn 1951, 14).
The traditions and standards of the court are grounded in honesty, integrity, scruples, experience, and wisdom of the eminent judges. The location of court at Hague allows the court to operate without interference from major political influence. The Court has continuous organization, functions and people that ensures its commitment to legal problems of international dimensions. The court is also provided with an immensely rich library to facilitate legal research and study the issues in international disputes.
(Lissitzyn 1951, 14). In highlighting the features of The Court, Lissitzyn (1951, 14-15) further states that rules of The Court demand that in any argument or dispute the positions of the interested states or international organizations are required to provide full presentations in written pleadings and oral arguments. In its 60 years of existence the International Court of Justice has faced many criticism and accusations. It has been branded ineffectual to partisan to the interests of powerful countries of the World.
However, as stated earlier, The Court is an institution of consensus and is founded upon general agreement and mutual cooperation among the member states. It is the only instrument to enforce international laws that are vital to reduce tension and conflict that we see in the present day world. Its true that in its present scope The Court can not enforce peace or mutual agreement among contesting nations, however it gives an international platform where disputes are heard and a consensus created to an approach towards the solution of the problem, if not the solution itself.
There are various suggestion to make The Court more effective in deciding International disputes and conflicts. An important suggestion is that the Court shall supersede the Security Council. Another suggestion by Kelsen (1994) argues that UNO should take up the responsibility to enforce the orders of the International Court and apply sanctions against states that contempt the court. But the ultimate purpose of the International Court of Justice can be achieved only through a widest agreement among countries, cutting across, regional, political, religious and ideological prejudices to establish a world of justice and peace. Reference
Jennings, Robert Y. 1995. The International Court of Justice after Fifty Years. American Journal of International Law. Volume: 89. Issue: 3. Page Number: 493 Lissitzyn, Oliver J. 1951. The International Court of Justice: Its Role in the Maintenance of International Peace and Security. Carnegie Endowment for International Peace: New York. Publication. International Court of Justice. Statute of The International Court of Justice. 11. 2. 2006. Available on web at http://www. icj-cij. org/icjwww/ibasicdocuments/ibasictext/ibasicstatute. htm Kelsen, H. 1944. Peace Through Law. Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina Press, -104-