In the year 1945, the International Court of Justice or ICJ is established by the United Nations Charter. It is the primary sector of the United Nations which settles judicial questions. The main tasks of the ICJ are to resolve legal disputes submitted by member states and to give advisory opinions which are submitted by authorized international organs, agencies or the United Nations General Assembly. The International Court of Justice succeeds the former Permanent Court of International Justice.
As opposed to the International Criminal Court, which is also a recognized organ of the UN, the ICJ mainly focuses on civil questions brought to it by the member states. Considering its main functions and duties, it can be said that the International Court of Justice may be regarded as the first world court. This is so because of the following reasons: its functions, it jurisdiction and enforceability of its judgment. As can be gleaned, it is undeniable that the International Court of Justice performs functions which a court could only perform.
Its duty to resolve legal issues and other judiciary functions makes such a court. Also, the International Court of Justice has jurisdiction over states which are members of the United Nations. And an essence of being a court is the exercise of jurisdiction over its subject matter. In addition, the International Court of Justice makes decisions or advisory opinions to questions brought before them which is also an element of being a court. Due to this, the International Court of Justice can be said that it is the first world court.
Although the International Court of Justice is a court, its rules and procedures are distinct to an ordinary court. Usually, the parties in cases before them are states, international agencies and bodies and individuals are usually barred to file a case before them. In the International Court of Justice, the acquisition of jurisdiction varies. It can be acquired through special agreement of the parties, compulsory, those specifically provided for by treaties, declaration of member states over the acceptance of jurisdiction of the ICJ over them and, the acceptance of ICJ to consent to acquire jurisdiction over the case.
This is totally different from other ordinary courts. Also, the International Court of Justice orders the parties to submit their respective memorial which contains the factual situations and their submissions. The ICJ will then order the respective parties to defend the case through oral presentations. After which, hearings will be conducted. The Court will consider every piece of evidence presented before them prior to the rendering of a decision. If a decision is promulgated, it will furnish the parties a copy of such decision.
It is to be noted that the Court may promulgate decisions as binding on the parties or are just advisory opinions. These kinds of decision vary with each other because one is binding among the parties while the other is only a persuasive decision. Having said these, it is submitted that the International Court of Justice is different from any court in the United States. As have mentioned, an advisory opinion is a kind of decision that the International Court of Justice promulgates.
Usually, an advisory opinion is promulgated as requested by pertinent United Nations bodies and agencies. It is aimed as a means by which the petitioners seek the advisory opinion of a court in deciding complicated questions under their jurisdiction. An advisory opinion is inherently considered as non-binding to the Court. It merely serves as a persuasive opinion on a particular legal issue confronting a factual situation. However, this does not mean that advisory opinions are not effective.
Advisory opinions are products of substantial deliberations and consultation. It is based also on international law, customs and other reliable sources. In addition, this is promulgated by people known to be experts in the field of international law. Due to this, the advisory opinion is widely accepted as a decision on the merits.
Reference: International Court of Justice. Retrieved April 19, 2008, from http://www. icj-cij. org/documents/index. php? p1=4&p2=2&p3=0.