INTERNATIONAL COURT OF JUSTICE (ICJ)
Mirthe Breedijk, Gymnasium Haganum
Joao Desouza, The British School in The Netherlands
Guide to the ICJ
The United Nations was created on the 26th of June 1945 with their famous Charter. In this Charter, the International Court of Justice(ICJ) was created as well. The ICJ is not to be confused with the International Criminal Court (ICC). The ICC is a court where any individual that lives in a member state can go if there is no other option in their own country’s legal system. The ICJ is a court where entire countries can go against each other.
Article 94 of this Charter is the most important rule for the ICJ. It says that every country that is member of the United Nations and signed the Charter, is obligated to listen to the verdict of the ICJ. These rules were made 75 years ago. Next to this Charter, there is also a Statute of the ICJ that was signed by all of the United Nation member states. In this Statute the rules of procedure of the ICJ are layed out. The main idea of the Court is that countries are able to sue each other, like normal legal subjects can also do. Countries can go up against each other when one of them violates the rules that are in the Charter of the United Nations. The ICJ also deals with cases from within the United Nations. For example, when a Committee wants to change a procedure like: the case where the issue of Competence of the General Assembly for the Admission of a State to the United Nations was discussed. These are called cases, but they are actually advisory statements that the ICJ gives on legal discussions. Since its existence, there have been 178 cases of which there are 8 still in progress. In all these cases, the United States of America have been involved 37 times. The first case was the Corfu Channel case between the United Kingdom and Albania.
Of course, the most important rule is the one that forbids any violence between member states (Article 2, sub 4). The problem in most cases that are judged by the ICJ involving violence, is article 51 of the Charter says the following; ‘Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective
self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security. Measures taken by Members in the exercise of this right of self-defence shall be immediately reported to the Security Council and shall not in any way affect the authority and responsibility of the Security Council under the present Charter to take at any time such action as it deems necessary in order to maintain or restore international peace and security.’
Often both countries in a case accuse each other of starting the violence and defend themself based on article 51.
At HMUN the International Court of Justice is a committee for experts and a delegate is expected to go through an application process before attending this committee. In this committee, attendees simulate a real court and therefore the organisation of HMUN tries to ensure a realistic ICJ. That means that delegates are given a traditional black robe and get to debate in a real courthouse.