ICJ comprising 15 judges hearing Jadhav case

February 20,2019

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ISLAMABAD: The International Court of Justice (ICJ), which is currently hearing the case relating to Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav, sentenced to death for espionage by a military court of Pakistan, comprises 15 judges including one from India.

Former Chief Justice of Pakistan Tassaduq Hussain Jillani, who is the ad hoc judge of the ICJ, fell ill on Tuesday and could not remain part of the bench.

The judges hail from China, Slovakia, France, Morocco, Brazil, US, Italy, Uganda, India, Jamaica, Australia, Russian Federation, Lebanon, Japan and Belgium.

Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf, coming from Somalia, is the president of the ICJ while Xue Hangin from China is the vice-president.

The judges include Philippe Couvreur, Yuji Iwasawa, Nawaf Salam, Kirill Gevorgian, James Richard Crawford, Patrick Lipton Robinson, Dalveer Bhandari, Julia Sebutinde, Giorgio Gaja, Joan E. Donoghue, Antônio Augusto Cançado Trindade, Mohamed Bennouna, Ronny Abraham and Peter Tomka.

The judges are elected for terms of nine years by the UN General Assembly and the Security Council. It is assisted by a Registry, its administrative organ.

The ICJ has a twofold role: to settle, in accordance with international law, legal disputes submitted to it by states (contentious cases) and to give advisory opinions (advisory procedures) on legal questions referred to it by duly authorised UN organs and specialised agencies.

Only states are eligible to appear before the ICJ in contentious cases. The ICJ has no jurisdiction to deal with applications from individuals, non-governmental organisations, corporations or any other private entity. It cannot provide them with legal advice or help them in their dealings with national authorities. However, a state may take up the case of one of its nationals and invoke against another state the wrongs which its national claims to have suffered at the hands of the latter; the dispute then becomes one between states.

A state may manifest its consent in three ways by a special agreement: two or more states with a dispute on a specific issue may agree to submit it jointly to the ICJ and conclude an agreement for this purpose; by a clause in a treaty: over 300 treaties contain clauses (known as jurisdictional clauses) by which a state party undertakes to accept the jurisdiction of the court should a dispute arise with another state party about the interpretation or application of the treaty; by a unilateral declaration: the states parties to the Statute of the ICJ may opt to make a unilateral declaration recognising the jurisdiction of the ICJ as binding with respect to any other state also accepting it as binding. This optional clause system, as it is called, has led to the creation of a group of states each of which has given the ICJ jurisdiction to settle any dispute that might arise between them in future.

In principle, any state in this group is entitled to bring one or more other states in the group before the ICJ. Declarations may contain reservations limiting their duration or excluding certain categories of dispute. They are deposited by states with the UN Secretary-General.

The ICJ says its judgments in disputes between states are binding upon the parties concerned. Article 94 of the UN Charter provides that each UN member undertakes to comply with the decision of the ICJ in any case to which it is a party.

It further says that judgments are final and without appeal. If there is a dispute about the meaning or scope of a judgment, the only possibility is for one of the parties to make a request to the ICJ for an interpretation. In the event of the discovery of a fact hitherto unknown to the ICJ which might be a decisive factor, either party may apply for revision of the judgment.

As regards advisory opinions, it is usually for the UN organs and specialised agencies requesting them to give effect to them or not, by whichever means they see fit.

The first case entered in the General List of the ICJ (United Kingdom v. Albania)) was submitted on 22 May 1947. Between 22 May 1947 and 1 January 2019, as many as 176 cases were entered in the General List.

The ICJ is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations. It was established in June 1945 by the UN Charter and began work in April 1946.


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