The World Court, or International Court of Justice (ICJ), is the primary court of the United Nations (UN). It was created under the United Nations Charter in June 1945, and it started operations in April 1946. It plays a crucial role in settling legal disputes between states in accordance with international law.

Key Points about the ICJ:

  • Function: Settles legal disputes submitted to it by states and gives advisory opinions on legal questions referred to it by authorized UN organs and specialized agencies.
  • Location: The Hague, Netherlands
  • Established: 1946
  • Judges: Judges: The UN General Assembly and Security Council selected 15 judges to serve nine-year terms.
  • Membership: 193 UN member states

What Does the ICJ Do?

The ICJ primarily focuses on two main functions:

  1. Settling legal disputes between states: When states have disagreements that cannot be resolved through diplomacy or negotiation, they can bring their case to the ICJ for a binding decision.
  2. Issuing advisory opinions: The ICJ can also provide non-binding legal advice on legal questions referred to it by authorized UN organs and specialized agencies. These advisory opinions can help clarify legal issues and inform decision-making on international matters.

Recent Activities of the ICJ:

  • February 20, 2024: The ICJ elected Judge Nawaf Salam as its new President and Judge Julia Sebutinde as its Vice-President for a term of three years.
  • February 9, 2024: The ICJ held public hearings in the case concerning Dispute concerning Maritime Delimitation and Territorial Sovereignty (Somalia v. Kenya).
  • November 9, 2023: The UN General Assembly and Security Council elected four new judges to the ICJ: Juan Manuel Gómez Robledo (Mexico), Sarah Hull Cleveland (United States), Bogdan-Lucian Aurescu (Romania), and Dire Tladi (South Africa).

Latest Developments in ICJ:

In recent years, the ICJ has adjudicated several high-profile cases and delivered landmark judgments that have shaped international law and diplomacy. Notable developments include:

Rohingya Genocide Case (Myanmar v. Gambia): In 2019, The Gambia filed a lawsuit against Myanmar at the ICJ, accusing the latter of committing genocide against the Rohingya Muslim minority. The ICJ issued provisional measures, urging Myanmar to take immediate actions to prevent further atrocities and protect the Rohingya population.

Kulbhushan Jadhav Case (India v. Pakistan): The ICJ delivered its judgment in July 2019 on the case of Kulbhushan Jadhav, an Indian national sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court on espionage charges. The ICJ ruled that Pakistan had violated Jadhav’s rights under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations and called for his conviction to be reviewed and reconsidered.

Indian Context and ICJ:

India, as a prominent member of the international community, has been actively involved in ICJ proceedings, both as a party to disputes and as a supporter of the court’s role in upholding international law. Several key aspects highlight India’s engagement with the ICJ:

Participation in ICJ Proceedings: India has been party to several cases before the ICJ, reflecting its commitment to utilizing international legal mechanisms to resolve disputes peacefully. Notable cases include the Maritime Delimitation in the Indian Ocean (Bangladesh v. India) case and the Case Concerning Pulau Batu Puteh, Middle Rocks and South Ledge (Malaysia/Singapore v. Indonesia) case.

Advocacy for Multilateralism and Rule of Law: India has consistently advocated for the principles of multilateralism and the rule of law in international affairs, including through its support for the ICJ’s role in adjudicating disputes and promoting adherence to international legal norms.

Contribution to International Legal Scholarship: Indian legal experts and scholars have actively contributed to discussions on international law and jurisprudence, enriching the global discourse on legal issues and influencing ICJ jurisprudence through their expertise and insights.

Challenges and Opportunities:

While the ICJ plays a crucial role in the peaceful settlement of disputes and the promotion of international law, it faces certain challenges, including:

Compliance with Judgments: Ensuring compliance with ICJ judgments remains a challenge, as states may sometimes disregard or selectively implement court decisions, undermining the effectiveness of the court’s rulings.

Limited Jurisdiction: The ICJ’s jurisdiction is based on the consent of states, which may limit its ability to adjudicate certain disputes, particularly those involving powerful states unwilling to subject themselves to the court’s jurisdiction.


The International Court of Justice (ICJ) serves as a beacon of hope for the peaceful resolution of disputes and the advancement of international law. Through its impartial adjudication, the ICJ contributes to fostering a rules-based international order grounded in justice, fairness, and respect for the rights and obligations of states. As India continues to engage with the ICJ and support its mandate, it reaffirms its commitment to upholding the principles of international law and promoting global peace and security.