The International Court of Justice commonly referred to as the World Court or ICJ is the primary judicial organ of the United Nations. It is based in the Peace Palace in The Hague, the Netherlands. Its main functions are to settle legal disputes submitted to it by states and to provide advisory opinions on legal questions submitted to it by duly authorized international organs, agencies, and the UN General Assembly.
Established in 1945 by the UN Charter, the Court began work in 1946 as the successor to the Permanent Court of International Justice. The Statute of the International Court of Justice, similar to that of its predecessor, is the main constitutional document constituting and regulating the Court. The Court’s workload covers a wide range of judicial activity. To date, the ICJ has dealt with relatively few cases. However, since the 1980s there has been a clear increase in willingness to use the Court, especially among developing countries. After the court ruled that the U.S.’s covert war against Nicaragua was in violation of international law (Nicaragua v. United States), the United States withdrew from compulsory jurisdiction in 1986. The United States accepts the court’s jurisdiction only on a case-by-case basis. Chapter XIV of the United Nations Charter authorizes the UN Security Council to enforce World Court rulings. However, such enforcement is subject to the veto power of the five permanent members of the Council.
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