This article discusses the Composition and Jurisdiction of International Court of Justice. International Court of Justice (ICJ) is the successor of the Permanent Court of International Justice. The statute of the Permanent Court of Justice has been adopted for the International Court of Justice (hereinafter referred to as ‘Court’). The establishment of the Court became necessary because to… Read More »

This article discusses the Composition and Jurisdiction of International Court of Justice. International Court of Justice (ICJ) is the successor of the Permanent Court of International Justice. The statute of the Permanent Court of Justice has been adopted for the International Court of Justice (hereinafter referred to as ‘Court’). The establishment of the Court became necessary because to attain the end of International law there must be a judicial organ. So, the Court is the...

This article discusses the Composition and Jurisdiction of International Court of Justice.

International Court of Justice (ICJ) is the successor of the Permanent Court of International Justice. The statute of the Permanent Court of Justice has been adopted for the International Court of Justice (hereinafter referred to as ‘Court’). The establishment of the Court became necessary because to attain the end of International law there must be a judicial organ. So, the Court is the ‘Principle Judicial Organ’ of the International Organization.

I. Composition of International Court of Justice

The composition of the Court may be explained as under:

  1. Strength: – The Court consists of fifteen judges. And not more than one judge shall be elected from one state, for the Court at a given time.
  2. Qualifications: – The candidate for the office of judge in the Court shall possess the following qualifications:

a). He should be independent.
b). He should be a person of high moral character.
c). He must be qualified for the appointment of the highest judicial offices in his country.

  1. Nature of the office: – The nature of the office of judge for the Court is elective. In other words, the judges for the Court shall be elected in General Assembly and Security Council.
  2. Election: – General Assembly and Security Council shall conduct the election of the judges of the Court independently, but simultaneously. These two organs shall elect the judges from the list of nominees prepared by the national groups in the Permanent Court of Arbitration.
  3. Term of office: – The term of the office for the judge of the Court is nine years, however, five of them shall be retired after every three years and so, for such vacancies election shall also be conducted after every five years as to maintain the strength to fifteen.
  4. Obligations of Judges: – Any person who has so been elected as a judge of the Court is bound to;

a). refrain from all political and administrative functions,
b). refrain from being council, agent or advocate in any case, and
c). not participate in any case in which he has previously has taken part as agent, counsel or advocate for one of the parties.

  1. Quorum of the Court: – The quorum of the Court is fixed at nine judges.
  2. President of the Court: – After each period of three years, the Court shall elect its president. The president shall preside the cases of the Court. But if in a case any party is his national he shall not be entitled to as act as president.
  3. Vice-President of the Court: – Along with the election of the president the shall also elect its vice-president. Voice president shall act as president in a case where the president is not present or where the president is not entitled to the presidency due to one of the parties to the case is being his national.
  4. Chamber: – The Court is entitled to form a chamber, composed of not less than three members or which the Court may think fit. The different chambers may be declared by the Court to deal with different cases. The Court may constitute a chamber to deal with a particular case. The Court shall itself along with the approval of the parties to the case determine the chamber.
  5. Ad hoc Judges: – The statute of the Court reveals that ad hoc judges may be appointed in those cases where there is no national judge of the party to a case. That party can appoint a national judge in that particular case.

II. Jurisdiction of International Court of Justice

Broadly speaking there are two kinds of the jurisdiction of the Court – Contentious Jurisdiction, and Advisory Jurisdiction.

Contentious Jurisdiction

That jurisdiction of the Court on the basis of which the Court decides any case with the consent of the parties to the case is called ‘Contentious Jurisdiction.’ It is the fundamental principle of international law that without the consent of any party to a case, the same shall not be referred to mediation or arbitration.

The same rule is, with some restriction, is applicable to the jurisdiction of the Court. In other words, the Court is not entitled to initiate any proceeding merely because one party files a case, rather the consent of both the parties are necessary that dependent is also required to give consent to the case.

Contentious Jurisdiction is of three kinds which may be given as under:

a.Voluntary Jurisdiction.
b. Ad hoc Jurisdiction.
c. Compulsory Jurisdiction.

Voluntary Jurisdiction

That jurisdiction which the parties by virtue of an agreement or treaty confer on Court is called Voluntary Jurisdiction. In other words, when the parties to a treaty or a contract stipulate that if any dispute arises in respect of such treaty or contract the dispute shall be referred to the Court for settlement, this type of jurisdiction of the Court is said to be voluntary jurisdiction. So, in voluntary jurisdiction, the parties to a dispute give their assent for the jurisdiction of the Court in advance.

Ad hoc Jurisdiction

That jurisdiction of the Court when the parties, after the occurrence of the dispute, confers on Court and in which the Court has no right to take up the case, is said to be Ad hoc Jurisdiction.

Compulsory Jurisdiction

Compulsory Jurisdiction means that type of jurisdiction which the Court enjoys without the consent of the parties. In classic international law, there is no concept of the Compulsory Jurisdiction of the Court, but recently it has been contended that no time has been reached to confide the Court with compulsory jurisdiction.

In the case of Compulsory Jurisdiction, the Court is to be empowered to take up a case without the consent of the parties like municipal Courts. But once again, the application of the Compulsory Jurisdiction at the universal level depends on the approval of the Nation States. The procedure for the Compulsory Jurisdiction of the Court has also been laid down.

Advisory Jurisdiction

Advisory Jurisdiction means that the jurisdiction of the Court by which it may only give an advisory opinion on a question of law. This does not require the consent of the parties to a case but when any International Institute (General Assembly or Security Council) ask the Court to give an advisory opinion on the question.

This opinion is not binding on the parties. So, the case may be referred by an international organization or by any organs within the scope of their activities.


  1. Law Library: Notes and Study Material for LLB, LLM, Judiciary and Entrance Exams
  2. Legal Bites Academy – Ultimate Test Prep Destination
Updated On 2021-10-03T17:27:13+05:30
Mayank Shekhar

Mayank Shekhar

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