October 2010 Monthly Forecast

Posted 30 September 2010
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International Court of Justice

Expected Council Action
In October the president of the ICJ, Hisashi Owada of Japan, is expected to brief the Council in a private meeting. This briefing, which has been held annually since the practice was first established in 2000, normally coincides with the president’s presentation of the Court’s annual report to the General Assembly. (The president is invited to brief the Council under rule 39 of the Council’s Provisional Rules of Procedure, which allows the Council to invite a person to provide it with information.)

Judge Owada is likely to give a presentation on the overall activities of the ICJ and discuss the relationship between the Council and the Court. No Council decision is expected.

At press time the ICJ annual report covering the period from August 2009 through July 2010 had yet to be released.

Background on the ICJ
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is one of the UN’s six principal organs. All UN member states are parties to the ICJ Statute, which is an annex to the UN Charter. The ICJ is the only international court of a universal character with general jurisdiction. The Court is composed of 15 judges, elected for terms of office of nine years in separate but simultaneous elections by the General Assembly and the Council. (Two such elections were held in 2010; for more details on the elections, please refer to our June and September 2010 Monthly Forecasts.)

Of the 192 states parties to the ICJ Statute, 66 have submitted a declaration of acceptance of compulsory jurisdiction. States that have not done so may also consent to take a dispute between them to the ICJ through special agreement. In addition, some 300 bilateral and multilateral treaties provide for ICJ jurisdiction in resolving disputes arising out of the treaties’ application.

The ICJ and the Council have an important nexus established by the Charter. In the event that a state fails to abide by an ICJ decision, the other party may have recourse to the Council. Under the Charter, the Council may then make recommendations or decide upon measures to give effect to the ICJ’s decision.

The ICJ also exercises advisory jurisdiction through a procedure allowing intergovernmental organisations to request advisory opinions. The Council or the General Assembly and some specialised agencies may request the ICJ to give an advisory opinion on any legal issue.

The most recent advisory case was the General Assembly’s request in a resolution adopted in October 2008 for an advisory opinion on the legality of Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence of 17 February 2008. In its opinion issued on 22 July, the Court ruled that the declaration “did not violate general international law.” Subsequently, on 9 September the General Assembly adopted a resolution acknowledging the advisory opinion.

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UN Documents

Selected General Assembly Documents

  • A/64/PV.120 (9 September 2010) was the meeting record of the General Assembly’s adoption of the resolution acknowledging the ICJ’s advisory opinion on Kosovo.
  • A/64/4 was the annual report of the ICJ to the General Assembly covering the period 1 August 2008-31 July 2009.
  • A/64/PV.30 (29 October 2009) was the meeting record from the 2009 presentation of the ICJ’s report to the General Assembly.

Selected General Assembly Resolutions

  • A/RES/64/298 (9 September 2010) acknowledged the ICJ’s advisory opinion on Kosovo.
  • A/RES/63/3 (8 October 2008) referred Kosovo’s declaration of independence to the ICJ for an advisory opinion.

Full forecast

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