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Settlement of Disputes by the International Court of Justice: Two Souls in the Court’s Breast

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Abstract

This chapter considers whether the dispute settlement function of the International Court of Justice is to achieve ‘world order’ or to render ‘transactional justice’ between the parties. Does the Court, in the settlement of disputes, transcend the matter before it, with a view to developing the law, or does the Court confine itself to the transactional settlement of the dispute brought before it? Both modes are part of the Court’s dispute settlement function. But when the two come into conflict, which one prevails on the basis of representing the more fundamental value? On the one hand, the Court’s jurisdiction is based strictly on the consent of the parties before it: the Court may assume jurisdiction in relation to a State only when it has accepted the Court’s jurisdiction in a voluntary and indisputable manner. On the other hand, the Court is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations: given that it is not just an organ—but the organ—of international law, it has a particular role in ensuring its integrity. From the Court’s very first judgment, the Court has inclined towards world order rather than transactional justice. It has done so for the right reasons.

Eirik Bjorge is Professor of Law at the University of Bristol Law School, United Kingdom and Adjunct Professor at Columbia Law School, New York, USA.

Andreas Motzfeldt Kravik is a State Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Norway, Oslo, Norway.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    As regards scholarly writings, see e.g. Andenas (2012), Andenas (2015), and Andenas and Contartese (2019); as regards work under the auspices of the UN, see e.g. the Report of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD), ‘Basic Principles and Guidelines on remedies and procedures on the right of anyone deprived of their liberty to bring proceedings before a court’, UN Doc. WGAD/CRP.1/2015 (2015), product of his work as Chair-Rapporteur of the WGAD (2013–2015).

  2. 2.

    See Gowlland-Debbas (2015), pp. 111–113.

  3. 3.

    Nanopoulos (2017), p. 123.

  4. 4.

    Nanopoulos (2017), p. 125.

  5. 5.

    Abi-Saab (1996), p. 7.

  6. 6.

    Application of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (The Gambia v Myanmar) (Provisional Measures) ICJ Rep 2020, p. 3, 25–26, para 69, citing the preambular recital to GA Resolution 96(I), A/RES/96, 11 December 1946. Also: United States Diplomatic and Consular Staff in Tehran (United States v Iran) (Judgment) 1980 ICJ Rep 3, 43; see in this regard Hernández (2013), p. 32.

  7. 7.

    Nanopoulos (2017), p. 125.

  8. 8.

    Guillaume (2003a), pp. 239–240.

  9. 9.

    See, generally, Murphy et al. (2013).

  10. 10.

    Partial Award: Central Front – Eritrea’s Claims 2, 4, 6, 7, 8 & 22 26 (2009) 26 RIAA 115, 129; see Murphy et al. (2013) pp. 76–77.

  11. 11.

    Art. 31(3)(c), Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, 23 May 1969, 1155 UNTS 331.

  12. 12.

    Murphy et al. (2013), p. 406.

  13. 13.

    Murphy et al. (2013), p. 407.

  14. 14.

    Final Award: Eritrea’s Damages Claims (2009) 26 RIAA 505, 523–24; Final Award: Ethiopia’s Damages Claims (2009) 26 RIAA 631, 651; Decision Number 7: Guidance Regarding Jus ad Bellum Liability (2009) 26 RIAA 10, 17–19.

  15. 15.

    See Crawford (2013), pp. 483–84.

  16. 16.

    Charter of the UN, 26 June 1945, 892 UNTS 119, Art. 7.

  17. 17.

    Charter of the UN, Art. 92.

  18. 18.

    Free Zones of Upper Savoy and the District of Gex (France v. Switzerland) (Order), PCIJ 1929, Series A no. 22, 12; Frontier Dispute (Burkina Faso v. Niger) (Judgment), ICJ Rep 2013, p. 44, 70, para 46.

  19. 19.

    Corfu Channel Case (UK v. Albania) (Judgment) ICJ Rep 1949, p. 4, 35.

  20. 20.

    Couvreur (2017), p. 6.

  21. 21.

    Goethe, Faust: Eine Tragödie, erster Teil, V. 1112–1113 (‘zwei Seelen wohnen, ach! in meiner Brust, Die eine will sich von der andern trennen’).

  22. 22.

    Charter of the UN, Art 2(6).

  23. 23.

    Rosenne (2003), pp. 13–14.

  24. 24.

    Crawford (2019), p. 16.

  25. 25.

    See e.g., Advisory Committee of Jurists, Procès-Verbaux of the Proceedings of the Committee (Van Langenhuysen 1920) 229 (Loder); Loder (1921), pp. 11–12.

  26. 26.

    Kolb (2013), p. 58.

  27. 27.

    Armed Activities on the Territory of the Congo (New Application: 2002) (Democratic Republic of the Congo v Rwanda), Jurisdiction and Admissibility, (Judgment) ICJ Rep 2006, p. 6, 39, para 88; Certain Questions of Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters (Djibouti v. France) (Judgment) ICJ Rep 2008, p. 177, 200, para 48.

  28. 28.

    Lauterpacht (1958), p. 91.

  29. 29.

    Case Concerning Certain Questions of Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters (Djibouti v. France) (Judgment) ICJ Rep 2008, p. 177, 204, para 62, quoting, among other judgments, Armed Activities on the Territory of the Congo (New Application: 2002) (Democratic Republic of the Congo v. Rwanda) (Jurisdiction and Admissibility) ICJ Rep 2006, p. 6, 18–19, para 21.

  30. 30.

    Statute of the International Court of Justice, Art. 36.

  31. 31.

    Established by Marrakesh Agreement Establishing the World Trade Organization, 15 April 1994, 1867 UNTS 3 Annex 2.

  32. 32.

    Established by (European) Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, 4 November 1950, 213 UNTS 222.

  33. 33.

    Couvreur (2017), pp. 140–47.

  34. 34.

    See e.g. Convention on International Civil Aviation, 7 December 1944, 15 UNTS 295 Arts 84 and 86; Appeal relating to the Jurisdiction of the ICAO Council (India v. Pakistan)(Judgment) ICJ Rep 1972, p. 46; Appeal Relating to the Jurisdiction of the ICAO Council under Article 84 of the Convention on International Civil Aviation (Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates v. Qatar) (Order) ICJ Rep 2019.

  35. 35.

    Free Zones of Upper Savoy and the District of Gex (France v Switzerland) (Order) PCIJ 1929, Series A, No. 22, 13; North Sea Continental Shelf, (Judgment ICJ Rep 1969, p. 3, 47, para. 87; Frontier Dispute (Burkina Faso v. Republic of Mali)(Judgment) ICJ Rep 1986, p. 554, 577, para 46; Passage through the Great Belt (Finland v Denmark) (Provisional Measures) ICJ Rep 1991, p. 12, 20, para 35; Aerial Incident of 10 August 1999 (Pakistan v. India), Jurisdiction (Judgment) ICJ Rep 2000, p. 12, 33, para 52. French was the authoritative version of the Order in Free Zones; the English translation (‘an alternative to the direct and friendly settlement between the Parties’) does not properly capture the meaning of ‘succédané’: ‘succédané’ in French is not merely an ‘alternative’; it is, according to Le Grand Robert, ‘quelque chose qui supplée, qui remplace une chose absente’. It is a replacement to make up or fill in for something that does not exist or is unattainable; not merely an equivalent alternative, but a second best or an imperfect substitute.’: Abi-Saab (2012), p. 328.

  36. 36.

    Kolb, Good Faith in International Law (2017), p. 236 (the brackets are Kolb’s).

  37. 37.

    Abi-Saab (2012), p. 328.

  38. 38.

    Application of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (Georgia v. Russia) Preliminary Objections (Judgment) ICJ Rep 2011, p. 70.

  39. 39.

    Ibid 131, para 150.

  40. 40.

    Ibid 124, para 131; Mavrommatis Palestine Concessions(Greece v. U.K.) (Judgment) PCIJ 1924, Series A no. 2, 15.

  41. 41.

    Application of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (Georgia v. Russia), Preliminary Objections (Judgment) ICJ Rep 2011, p. 70, 125, para 131; Armed Activities on the Territory of the Congo (New Application: 2002) (Democratic Republic of the Congo v. Rwanda) Jurisdiction and Admissibility (Judgment) ICJ Rep 2006, p. 6, 39, para 88.

  42. 42.

    See e.g. International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination, 21 December 1965, 660 UNTS 195, Art 22.

  43. 43.

    See e.g., within the field of investor–State arbitration, ICS Inspection and Control Services Ltd v Argentine Republic, PCA Case no. 2010-9 (PCA Arbitral Tribunal, Award 10 February 2012) para 250; Philip Morris Brands SÀRL v. Republic of Uruguay, ICSID Case No. ARB/10/7, Decision on Jurisdiction 2 July 2013, para 141; Teinver SA, Transportes de Cercanías SA and Autobuses Urbanos del Sur SA v. the Argentine Republic, ICSID Case No. ARB/09/1, Decision on Jurisdiction 21 December 2012, para 123. Witness also the successful conciliation between Timor-Leste and Australia under UNCLOS Article 284, 10 December 1982, 1833 U.N.T.S. 3 , In the Matter of a Conciliation before a Conciliation Commission Constituted under Annex V to the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea between the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste and the Commonwealth of Australia, PCA Case no 2016-10 (19 September 2016).

  44. 44.

    Alvarez (2014).

  45. 45.

    Discussions about the appropriate governance function of international courts can be traced back to the 1930s, see e.g. Lauterpacht, who stated that international judges should ‘serve the international community’ and not merely the parties before them: Lauterpacht (1933), e.g. p. 238.

  46. 46.

    Bourgeois (1920), p. 5, 7.

  47. 47.

    Couvreur (2017), p. 18.

  48. 48.

    Protocol of Signature to the Statute of the Permanent Court of International Justice, 16 December 1920, 6 LNTS 379, Art 1.

  49. 49.

    Ahmadou Sadio Diallo (Republic of Guinea v. Democratic Republic of the Congo) (Merits) (Judgment) ICJ Rep 2010, p. 639, 664, para 66.

  50. 50.

    Nottebohm (Liechtenstein v. Guatemala) (Preliminary Objections) ICJ Rep 1953, p. 111, 120.

  51. 51.

    Statute of the International Court of Justice, 26 June 1945, Art 38(1).

  52. 52.

    Request for Interpretation of the asylum case (Columbia v. Peru) (Judgment) ICJ Rep 1950, p. 395, 402.

  53. 53.

    Continental Shelf (Libya v. Malta) (Judgment) ICJ Rep 1985, p. 13, 23, para 19; Territorial and Maritime Dispute (Nicaragua v. Colombia) (Judgment) ICJ Rep 2012, p. 624, 671, para 136.

  54. 54.

    Couvreur (1996), p. 105.

  55. 55.

    UN Charter, Art 33. See Ascencio (2005), p. 1047; Tomuschat (2012), p. 1069.

  56. 56.

    See Witenberg (1937), p. 270.

  57. 57.

    Free Zones of Upper Savoy and the District of Gex (France v. Switzerland) (Order) PCIJ 1929, Series A no. 22, para 13; Abi-Saab (2012), p. 328; Kolb, Good Faith in International Law (2017), p. 236.

  58. 58.

    Kolb (2013), p. 47.

  59. 59.

    Couvreur (2017), p. 36.

  60. 60.

    As embodied in Art 36(6) of the Statute: ‘In the event of a dispute as to whether the Court has jurisdiction, the matter shall be settled by the decision of the Court.’

  61. 61.

    Nottebohm (Liechtenstein v. Guatemala) (Preliminary Objections) ICJ Rep 1953, p. 111, 119.

  62. 62.

    Couvreur (2017), p. 36.

  63. 63.

    See generally Kolb (2001), pp. 209–248.

  64. 64.

    Kolb (2013), p. 270.

  65. 65.

    Free Zones of Upper Savoy and the District of Gex (France v. Switzerland) (Order) PCIJ 1929, Series A no. 22, 12.

  66. 66.

    Frontier Dispute (Burkina Faso v. Niger) (Judgment) ICJ Rep 2013, p. 44, 70, para 46.

  67. 67.

    Ibid 69, para 45.

  68. 68.

    Ibid 70, para 46 (emphasis added).

  69. 69.

    Couvreur (2017), p. 36.

  70. 70.

    Military and Paramilitary Activities in and against Nicaragua(Nicaragua v. U.S.)(Preliminary Objections) (Judgment) ICJ Rep 1984, p. 392, 407, para 34.

  71. 71.

    Corfu Channel Case (UK v. Albania) (Judgment) ICJ Rep 1949, p. 4.

  72. 72.

    Lauterpacht (1933), p. 153.

  73. 73.

    Kolb (2017), p. 365.

  74. 74.

    Corfu Channel Case (UK v. Albania) (Judgment) ICJ Rep 1949, p. 4, 36.

  75. 75.

    Gray (2013), p. 238; Greenwood (1996), p. 373.

  76. 76.

    Such arguments surfaced in connection with the Suez Crisis: for the reliance by France on such an argument: Bastid (1961); and for the reliance by the UK on such an argument: Marston (1988); Kolb (2018), pp. 342–43.

  77. 77.

    See Greenwood (1996), p. 373.

  78. 78.

    Corfu Channel Case (UK v. Albania) (Judgment) ICJ Rep 1949, p. 4, 35. See Kohen (2017), pp. 233–34.

  79. 79.

    Military and Paramilitary Activities in and against Nicaragua (Nicaragua v United States of America) (Merits) ICJ Rep 1986, p. 14.

  80. 80.

    Ibid para 188.

  81. 81.

    Ibid para 193

  82. 82.

    Ibid para 115.

  83. 83.

    Kolb (2017), p. 374.

  84. 84.

    See Corfu Channel p. 35; Military and Paramilitary Activities in and against Nicaragua, e.g. para 95, 115 and 176.

  85. 85.

    Campbell (2018), p. 565.

  86. 86.

    Both the US (7 October 2001, UN Doc. S/2001/946) and the UK (7 October 2001, UN Doc. S/2001/947) sent letters to the Security Council invoking the right to self-defence pursuant to Art 51 of the Charter.

  87. 87.

    UN Security Council Resolution 1368 (28 September 2001) UN Doc S/RES/1368.

  88. 88.

    UN Security Council Resolution 1373 (28 September 2001) UN Doc S/RES/1373.

  89. 89.

    Ruys (2010), pp. 419–85.

  90. 90.

    Crawford (2019), pp. 746–48.

  91. 91.

    Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (Advisory Opinion) ICJ Rep 2004, p. 194.

  92. 92.

    Crawford (2019), p. 745.

  93. 93.

    Armed Activities on the Territory of the Congo (Democratic Republic of the Congo v Uganda) (Judgment) ICJ Rep 2005, p. 168.

  94. 94.

    Ibid 131–135.

  95. 95.

    Ibid 147.

  96. 96.

    Crawford (2019), p. 745.

  97. 97.

    Armed Activities on the Territory of the Congo, p. 313, para 25 (Separate Opinion of Judge Kooijmans).

  98. 98.

    Armed Activities on the Territory of the Congo, 336, para 8 (Separate Opinion of Judge Simma).

  99. 99.

    Delimitation of the Maritime Boundary between Guyana and Suriname (Guyana v. Suriname) (PCA Arbitral Tribunal, Award 17 September 2007) 30 RIAA 1.

  100. 100.

    Oil Platforms (Islamic Republic of Iran v United States of America)(Judgment) ICJ Rep 2003, p. 161.

  101. 101.

    Delimitation of the Maritime Boundary between Guyana and Suriname, pp. 121–23, paras 433–38.

  102. 102.

    Ibid 123, para 439.

  103. 103.

    Crawford (2019), p. 720.

  104. 104.

    Delimitation of the Maritime Boundary between Guyana and Suriname, p. 126, para 445.

  105. 105.

    Oil Platforms p. 182, para 41.

  106. 106.

    Ibid 182, para 42.

  107. 107.

    Daillier et al. (2009), p. 285.

  108. 108.

    The approach the ICJ took in Oil Platforms has not given universal satisfaction: Berman (2004); Jouannet (2004).

  109. 109.

    Guillaume (2003b), p. 179.

  110. 110.

    Schulte (2010).

  111. 111.

    O’Connell (1970), p. 32; Crawford (2017), p. 115.

  112. 112.

    Ibid.

  113. 113.

    Gray (2013), p. 247. See, however, n 77 above concerning French and British practice in relation to the Suez Crisis.

  114. 114.

    Charter of the UN, Art 94(2).

  115. 115.

    Kolb (2017), pp. 372–373.

  116. 116.

    Ibid 373.

  117. 117.

    ‘Judgment of the ICJ of 27 June 1986 concerning military and paramilitary activities in and against Nicaragua: need for immediate compliance’ (3 November 1986) UN Doc A/RES/41/31.

  118. 118.

    ‘Judgment of the ICJ of 31 March 2004 concerning Avena and Other Mexican Nationals: need for immediate compliance’(20 December 2018) UN Doc A/RES/73/257.

  119. 119.

    Avena and Other Mexican Nationals case (Mexico v. United States) (Judgment) ICJ Rep 2004, p. 12.

  120. 120.

    Crawford (2017), p. 95.

  121. 121.

    Couvreur (2017), pp. 37–38.

  122. 122.

    Statement by Mr Xu Hong, Director General of the Department of Treaty and Law, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, People’s Republic of China, at the 73rd Session of the UN General Assembly, Agenda Item 76, Report of the International Court of Justice.

  123. 123.

    Crawford (2017), p. 114.

  124. 124.

    Hathaway and Shapiro (2018) argue that the prohibition against the use of force, initially established by the Kellogg–Briand Pact, 27 August 1928, 94 LNTS 57, and later reflected in Art 2(4) of the UN Charter, is the single most important reason why inter-State wars have decreased so dramatically. The Court’s insistence on a strict reading of Art 2(4) has indubitably been vital to this historical development towards peaceful relations between States.

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Bjorge, E., Kravik, A.M. (2024). Settlement of Disputes by the International Court of Justice: Two Souls in the Court’s Breast. In: Heidemann, M. (eds) The Transformation of Private Law – Principles of Contract and Tort as European and International Law. LCF Studies in Commercial and Financial Law, vol 2. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-28497-7_11

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