International Court of Justice

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  • ICJ
    • Function
      • Based in The Hague, the court adjudicates on disputes between member states of the UN and to make judgements on issues brought to it by UN organisations and specialist agencies.
      • Founded in 1945 as the main arbitration organ of the UN.
    • How does the ICJ provide the opportunity for nation states to resolve their differences through international arbitration?
      • Non-compliance by a state with an ICJ judgement means that the other party may approach the UNSC to enforce the judgement.
      • ICJ rulings carry significant moral weight and so nation states won't want to be in defiance of the court.
    • How is the ICJ flawed?
      • It can't initiate cases itself
      • If states ignore judgements or rulings by the ICJ, it's very unlikely the UNSC will take coercive action.
    • When has ICJ been effective?
      • 1992: Border dispute between Honduras and El Salvador was resolved.
      • It possesses great moral authority and on many occasions states have agreed to accept its rulings.
      • 1986: Border clash between Burkina Faso and Mali was resolved
      • 2002: Border dispute between Nigeria and Cameroon was resolved.
    • When has ICJ been ineffective?
      • ICJ lacks coercive power and so its judgements and opinions require cooperation of states if they're to be enforced.
      • 1980: Iran refused to acknowledge ICJ sovereignty when the US accused it of breaking international law by seizing the American embassy in Tehran in 1979.
      • 1984: ICJ declared the the Reagan administration had acted illegally by mining Nicaraguan harbours to topple the Sandinista government. US refused to accept the judgement, arguing its actions were a justified response to Nicaraguan threats to its neighbours.
      • 2004: Israel rejected ICJ's opinion that the wall it was building to separate Israel from the Palestinian territories was illegal.

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