Role of ICJ in developing of International Law

The ICJ in its advisory Opinion stated that it is the fundamental right of every state to resort to self defence , in accordance with Article 51 of The UN Charter(ILC 1996). The evolution of self defense in international law  is  alongwith with the prohibition on aggression(ILC). While Article 2(4) of the charter states the obligation of member nations to refrain from use of inter state force, Article 51 permits an exception to the norm by allowing member nations the inherent right to self Defence , describing it as ‘collective’ and ‘individual’ in nature.

In its judgement on the case under discussion, The ICJ gave a different meaning to self defence as an inherent right by connecting the reference to customary international law(ICJ Rep. ). This interpretation of Article 51 rationalised the employment of the term ‘inherent’ and while toning down the exaggerated interpretations(Dinstein 2001,3rd edition). While arriving at the judgement, The ICJ based its decision on the customary international law concerning self defence as a response to an armed attack. However, the ICJ did not address the legality of self Defence in response to an expected or imminent threat.

State Responsibilities: Reparation When the issue of State responsibilities arises from the use of force by a state due to waging war or aggression, the restitution may be in the form of damages, indemnity, in kind if the property confiscated is traceable or moral satisfaction; and a host of other modes of satisfaction that may be extracted or agreed upon (S. Rosenne 1997-8). However, since war causes death and destruction on a large scale, the other forms of restitution may not be considered appropriate, hence payment of compensation is considered to be the most effective form of reparation.

As a principle, the payment should generally include all forms of losses and destruction suffered by the victim state and its citizens, due to the unlawful use of force (Q. Wright 1953). While deciding on this case, the ICJ rejected US challenges to its jurisdiction and tried the case under customary international law, wherein it established that the US was guilty of employing unlawful force against Nicaragua, thus incurring an obligation to pay compensation to the injuries and death to the citizens. The court awarded damages to Nicaragua by directing the US to make reparation.

The US did not pay the compensation and in 1991 Nicaragua renounced its right of action (ICJ Report 47, 48). The ICJ demonstrated that it can acquire jurisdiction in a case even without a special agreement, and also established the obligation of the aggressor country to be liable to make reparation for causing damage to life and property to the victim nation. Apart from the major aspects discussed till now, the ICJ during the conduct of the trial established certain principles of judicial conduct with far reaching consequences.

The judgement of the ICJ in this case was thus an important milestone in the long road to the establishment of a resilient and reliable judicial order. The voluntary abstention from the trial by the US  was a cause of regret, and the court expressed it; as it is considered that such a move adversely affects the smooth administration of justice ( I. C. J. Reports 1973, p. 7, para. 12; p. 54, para. 13; I. C. J. Reports 1974, p. 9. para. 17; p. 181, para. 18; Nuclear Tests, I. C. J. Reports 1974, p.

257, para. 15; p. 461, para. 15; Aegean Sea Continental Shelf, I. C. J. Reports 1978, p. 7, para. 15; United States Diplomatic and Consular Staff in Tehran, I. C. J. Reports 1980, p. 18, para. 33. The proceedings of the case also clarified the principle of jura novit curia which implied that the court did not depend only upon the testimony of either country to define the legal validity of the jurisdiction claims. Thus the absence of any of the parties had negligible impact on the proceedings (cf.

"Lotus", P. C. I. J. , Series A, No. 10, p. 31), It also categorically clarified that the court did not rely on either of the parties to interpret the aspects of international law, as it was well within the judicial knowledge of the Court. " (I. C. J. Reports 1974, p. 9, para. 17; p. 181, para. 18. ) In the present international environment, the contribution  made by the ICJ in dispute settlement, conflict resolution and maintaining international peace has been quite significant.

However, it has not got its due recognition from either the community of nations or from the various organizations and treaties in existence today. In the prevailing scenario, with the proliferating conflicts arising out of clash of interests  and a wide variety of reasons, it has been seen that the ICJ has dealt with the cases in a remarkably efficient and impartial manner, thereby ,resolving all disputes on different matters by peaceful means.