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Updated 06/23/2006

International Court of Justice

The International Court of Justice, also known as the World Court, is the predominant judicial body of the United Nations. The court hears legal disputes between member states of the United Nations and gives advisory opinions on legal issues as requested by the U.N. General Assembly or Security Council.

The court was established in 1945 and resides in The Hague, The Netherlands. Its 15 judges are elected by the Security Council and General Assembly for terms of nine years. Judges may be reelected, and elections are held every three years for one third of the court.  Each of the five permanent Security Council members always has a judge on the court; however, judges are not representatives of their respective countries. Cases are decided by a majority vote.

The court's decisions on disputes between states are binding if the two parties accept the court's jurisdiction. For example, the United States accepted the jurisdiction of the court up until 1984, when the court ruled against the United States in a case brought by Nicaragua, charging “unlawful use of force” against the Sandinista government.

For more information

Web site of the International Court of Justice