The Viability of the International Court of Justice

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The Viability of the International Court of Justice

The International Court of Justice is the main judicial branch of the United Nations. This organ is open to all members of the United Nations and its establishment has been dictated by the UN Charter since its inception in 1945 in San Francisco.

The ICJ for all intents and purposes is an ideal that has come into being, a precursor of a branch of a future world government. Governments who wish to settle legal disputes may submit jurisdiction to the ICJ for settlement. The court also performs arbitration and mediation functions between states but it cannot impose compulsory jurisdiction without the states express consent.

The problem with the International Court of Justice being the law between states is that it stands on flimsy ground being that international law is based mostly on tradition and customs and is generally considered non-binding on states without its conformity to the states national laws. The fact that jurisdiction is voluntary with the ICJ presents several problems that for many countries, doubt the effectiveness of such international court. One very glaring example is the Nicaragua case which the Court called on the US to ‘cease and refrain' from using ‘unlawful use of force' against the Nicaraguan government and to pay war reparations for the interference on the country's political history. The United States in 1984 withdrew from compulsory jurisdiction from the ICJ after that decision. If the United States can easily broke off a supposedly binding agreement to faithfully comply with the decisions of the Court, what precedent could it then give to other states wishing to try legal disputes? Following the law of stare decisis, other states can just easily withdraw from compulsory jurisdiction when the Court rules against them.

The ICJ also, to show world unity provides for 15 judges to be elected on nine year terms, no two judges being nationals of the same country and if two are...
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