International Court of Justice

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) was established in 1945 as a world court. The seat of the Court is located at the Hague in the Peace Palace which was formerly occupied by the Permanent Court of International Justice. The ICJ is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations and traces its origins to the Permanent Court of International Justice (PCIJ) which was established by the League of Nations.


Permanent Court of International Justice (PCIJ) 1922-1946

  • Article 14 of the Covenant of the League of Nations gave the Council of the League responsibility for formulating plans for the establishment of a Permanent Court of International Justice (PCIJ). The Court was established in 1921. It heard any dispute of an international character submitted to it by the parties to the dispute, and also gave advisory opinions in questions referred to it by the Council or by the Assembly. The PCIJ was dissolved at the same time as the League of Nations in 1946.
International Court of Justice (ICJ) 1945- present
  • The International Court of Justice (ICJ) was established in 1945 to be the successor to the PCIJ. It was set up under the Charter of the United Nations to be the principal judicial organ of the Organization, and its basic instrument, the Statute of the Court, forms an integral part of the Charter.
  • According to Article 34 of the Statute of the ICJ, only states may be parties in cases before the Court. Individuals do not have access to the Court. International organizations may seek advisory opinions. A state does not need to be a member of the UN to bring a case before the court; however, the state must comply with the decision of the Court and accept all the obligations of a member.

The ICJ consists of fifteen members. Members of the Court serve for nine years. The members are elected by the General Assembly and the Security Council. To be elected, a candidate must obtain an absolute majority of votes in both the General Assembly and the Security Council.

Quick Start to ICJ Research (Online)

Background Research

Searching for full text documents by CitationSearching for ICJ Cases by Topic
The ICJ website itself does not have a searchable index for cases by subject. The World Court Digest in it's various incarnations over time, provides some guidance, but both Westlaw and Lexis Nexis provide a means of searching ICJ cases by key word.
  • In Westlaw, the ICJ database can be found here: All Databases > International/Worldwide Materials > Multi-National Materials >Court & Tribunal Cases
    • Westlaw includes the full text of documents from the International Court of Justice (the World Court) since 1947. Source of this material is the ICJ's publication Report of Judgments, Advisory Opinions, Orders and selected documents released by the International Court of Justice are available.
  • In Lexis, the ICJ database is found here: International Law > Find Cases > International Court of Justice, Decisions Combined
    • "This group file contains the full-text, English-language judgments and advisory opinions of the International Court of Justice from 1948, and application, written pleadings and orders from pending cases filed in 2004 forward. Coverage begins in 1948 with The Corfu Channel Island cases and includes those full-text judgments and advisory opinions made available to LexisNexis by permission of the Court. Where applicable, links are provided to full-text U.S. and Canadian cases cited in the judgment."
Searching for Articles by Topic 
In Depth ICJ Research

Overview of the ICJ and PCIJ

Digests, and Summaries of Cases
Digests provide another means to find cases by topic.
  • Case Law of the International Court. - KZ214.P67 (6th Stacks - Lib use only) - Decisions of the ICJ from 1951-1976 are indexed in this set.
  • Digest of the Decisions of the International Court of Justice, 1976-1985.  - KZ213.D52 1990 (6th Stacks)
  • Digest of Decisions of the International Court - KZ213.P68 (6th stacks) - Includes summaries of cases brought before the international courts. Volume 1 covers the PCIJ (1922-1939); Volume 2 covers the ICJ (1947-1974).
  • Summaries of Judgments, Advisory Opinions and Orders of the International Court of Justice, 1948-1991. - KZ213.S85 1992 (6th stacks)
  • Summaries of Judgments, Advisory Opinions and Orders of the International Court of Justice, 1992-1996. - KZ213.S85 1998 (6th stacks)
  • Summaries of judgments, advisory opinions and orders of the International Court of Justice, 1997-2002.- KZ213 .S85 2003 (6th stacks)
  • World Court Digest. - KZ213.W67 1993 (6th stacks - library use only, and available online) - This is an excellent subject index to ICJ decisions. The library has volume 2 covering 1991-1995 and volume 3 covering 1996-2000.
ICJ Procedure

Article 30 of the Statute of the International Court of Justice provides that "the Court shall frame rules for carrying out its functions". Accordingly, the Rules of Court (1978) were adopted to supplement the general rules set forth in the Statute and to make detailed provision for the steps to be taken to comply with them.

  • Compulsory Jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice; by Renata Szafarz. - KZ6283.S93 1993 (6th Stacks)
  • Evidence in International Litigation by Chittharanjan Felix Amerasinghe - KZ6250.A48 2005 (6th stacks)
  • Law and Practice of the International Court; by Shabtai Rosenne. - KZ6275.R67 2006 (6th stacks)
  • Law and Procedure of the International Court of Justice; by Sir Gerald Fitzmaurice. - KZ6275.F58 1986 (6th stacks)
  • Procedure in the International Court : A Commentary on the 1978 Rules of the International Court of Justice by Shabtai Rosenne. - KZ6287 R67 1983 (6th stacks)
  • World Court: What It Is and How It Works; by Shabtai Rosenne. - KZ6275.R671 1995 (6th stacks)
  • The International Court of Justice : Process, Practice and Procedure by D. W Bowett. - KZ6275 I57 1997 (6th stacks)
  • The Authority Of The Security Council Under Chapter VII Of The UN Charter : Legal Limits And The Role Of The International Court Of Justice by David Schweigman. - KZ5038 .S39 2001 (6th stacks)
  • Essays On International Law And Practice by Shabtai Rosenne. - KZ3405.R66 A33 2007  (6th Stacks)
  • "Evidence Before the International Court of Justice"International Law FORUM du droit international 1, no. 4 (1999): 202 available online through HeinOnline
Official Opinions, Judgments, Court Documents

Reports of Judgments, Advisory Opinions and Orders

  • KZ214.I58 (6th stacks) - This series contains the reports of the decisions of the ICJ. Each decision is published as soon as it is rendered. The text is printed in both English and French. An analytical index is published each January for the previous years decisions. The Judgments, Advisory Opinions and Orders may also be found on WESTLAW in the INT-ICJ database. Coverage begins with 1947 and includes new documents as they are released by the court. The Readex Microfiche Collection (Micrographics Cabinets 11-13) includes the Reports of Judgments, Advisory Opinions, and Orders. The judgments and orders in all contentious cases and advisory opinions referred to the ICJ since 1946 are also available at the ICJ website (while most of these are full-text, some are summaries).

International Court of Justice Reports of Judgments, Advisory Opinions and Orders are also available for the years 1947-2003 at HeinOnline.

Pleadings, Oral Arguments, Documents

  • 1948-1972 are available on microfiche in cabinet 10 (JX1971.6A246; 4th floor - Micrographics).
  • 1973-1981 are available in print (KZ218.P54; 6th stacks) [Note: This set is incomplete.]
    These volumes contain the documents instituting the proceedings, the written pleadings, the verbatim record of the oral proceedings, and any documents relating to the case submitted to the Court.

Press Communiqués

Yearbook - International Court of Justice is available online through HeinOnline

  • KZ6273.A15 (6th stacks)
  • The library has most of the volumes published since 1946. This yearbook gives an account of the work of the court from August 1 of the previous year to July 31 of the current year. The Yearbook contains valuable information about the organization and finances of the Court and biographies of the judges. In one section, the decisions and pleadings are listed in chronological order. The Readex UN Microfiche Collection (Cabinets 11-13) also includes the Yearbook as part of the microfiche set.

PCIJ (Permanent Court of International Justice) 1922-1940 
  • Publications of the Permanent Court of International Justice (available online through HeinOnine)
  • KZ208.P477 (6th stacks) - Series A contains judgments; Series B contains advisory opinions; Series A/B contains judgments, orders, and advisory opinions; Series C includes pleadings, oral statements, acts, and documents; Series D contains acts and documents concerning the organization of the court; Series E contains the annual report of the PCIJ.

Publications of the Permanent Court of International Justice

  • KZ208.P48 (4th floor - Micrographics) - This is a set of 36 microfilm reels with a print guide.
Unofficial Reporters

International Legal Materials - Washington, D.C. American Society of International Law, 1962-present.

  • KZ64.I58 (Current volumes at the Circ. Desk and older issues in the 6th Stacks). - The library has 1962 through the current issue. This periodical includes selected ICJ judgments and other current documents before the material becomes available in the permanent collections. Available on Lexis (INTLAW;ILM) and Westlaw (ILM database) and through HeinOnline.
PCIJ (Permanent Court of International Justice) 1922-1940
  • Bibliography of the International Court of Justice - KZ6272.B48 (6th stacks) The library has vol. 23 (1969), vol. 30 (1976), vol. 36 (1982), and vol. 41 (1987) through the most recently published volume.  At the beginning of each year, the Registry of the Court issues a listing of works and documents relating to the Court. Up to the years 1963-64, the Bibliography formed Chapter IX of the Yearbook. Beginning with Bibliography number 19, it has been issued as a separate publication. The Bibliography is also included in the Readex Microfiche Collection.
  • ICJ Bibliography Annotated  - KF8810 .I25 1995 (6th stacks). 
ICJ Research Guides
Subject Specialist
Picture: Vincent Moyer

Vincent Moyer
Foreign, Comparative and International Law Librarian
Tel: 565-4752

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