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United Nations: International Court of Justice

International Court of Justice


The International Court of Justice (ICJ) continues the work of the Permanent Court of International Justice (PCIJ), as the principal judicial organ of the UN. Established in June 1945 by the Charter of the United Nations, it began work in April 1946. The Court’s responsibility is to settle, in accordance with international law, legal disputes that have been submitted to it by States and to provide advisory opinions on legal questions that have been referred to it by authorized United Nations organs or specialized agencies.

The Court is composed of 15 judges, who are elected for terms of office of nine years by the United Nations General Assembly and the Security Council. It is assisted by a Registry, which is its administrative organ. Its official languages are English and French.

The ICJ has two roles: it decides cases of international law between separate countries and it issues advisory opinions on legal questions referred to it by the UN. Its materials are published separately from the rest of the UN; thus, its cases and other materials are not found in the main databases that include other UN documents, such as UNBISnet. 

General texts about the PCIJ and ICJ can be found on open shelf in the Bodleian Law Library in the international section under Internat 725