The International Court of Justice was established at the San Francisco Conference in 1945. It is a successor to and resembles the Permanent Court of International Justice created at the time of the League of Nations, but its competence is wider, because membership in the League did not automatically require a nation to join the Permanent Court. The International Court, however, is a principal organ of the UN, so that all UN members automatically become parties to its statute, which, modeled on that of the Permanent Court, was adopted as an integral part of the Charter. By joining the UN, each country binds itself, in the words of the Charter, "to comply with the decision of the International Court of Justice in any case to which it is a party." If any party to a case violates this obligation, the other party "may have recourse to the Security Council, which may, if it deems necessary, make recommendations or decide upon measures to be taken to give effect to the judgment."

The Charter further provides that nonmembers of the UN may become parties to the statute of the court "on conditions to be determined in each case by the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council." Two such countries—Nauru and Switzerland—became parties to the statute in this way.

The rules under which the court is constituted and by which it functions are laid down in the statute and detailed in rules adopted by the court itself. The seat of the court is the Peace Palace at The Hague in the Netherlands, but it can meet elsewhere if it so desires. The judges are bound "to hold themselves permanently at the disposal of the Court."

The court is funded from the regular budget of the UN, to whose members its services are otherwise free of charge.


Since the court's inauguration in 1946, states have submitted more than 100 legal disputes to it, and international organizations have requested 24 advisory opinions.

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Aug 11, 2010 @ 12:12 pm
I am a U.S. citizen. I was imprisoned by the US Government without a criminal charge for 5 months. I was not arraigned and not told the statutory basis of charges. There was no bail hearing and no trial. Terrorism was irrelevant. The stated reason for imprisonment was to stop me from pursuing a third party civil lawsuit. Is this something the United Nations can help me with if I don't get a result in U.S. Courts?

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