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Posted: January 31st, 2023

The International Court of Justice was formed in 1946

Reaction Paper
Reaction Papers have a three-part purpose. First, they are intended to demonstrate your comprehension of the assigned readings . They will help you keep track of important . Most importantly, they are intended for you to give your reaction to the assigned readings.

Papers must be around 1200 words. They must be double-spaced; font size: 12; with standard margins. They must have a heading including your name and the topic of the week; page numbering, and consistent use of footnotes/references. Proofreading for grammatical errors is expected. Make sure that your paper is in the form of an essay with an introduction, body and conclusion. If you wish to discuss your work, please contact the instructor.

Your Reaction Paper should demonstrate comprehension of the assigned readings and contain a critical and thoughtful reaction to the reading. Reaction should make up the majority of the Reaction Paper. There are a number of ways you might approach the task of reaction to the readings.

a. Focus on an aspect of the reading that you will argue pertains to some issue or idea we have discussed in previous classes. Does the reading support, undermine or come into tension with previous issues or concepts? Explain why it is significant.
b. Focus on a particular theme or issue raised by the reading and give your own perspective on it. Be sure to elaborate on your opinion. What is your thinking based on? What are the strengths and the weaknesses of the main sides of the issue, as you see it? Do you have any personal experience that is relevant to the issue?
What to Avoid:
A Reaction Paper is NOT a book report! You must give some brief summary of the reading in order to write a good paper, but only summarize what is necessary to write your reaction. It is also important to avoid vague impressions about the reading. Base everything you say in something specific in the reading, such as a quote, or a concept or an argument. Dig into something solid. Make sure you make proper reference to these specific details, as the reaction paper must also prove you effectively read the assigned readings.

Reaction Paper
The International Court of Justice was formed in 1946. It succeeded the Permanent Court of International Justice formed in 1922 under Article 14 of the Covenant of the League of Nations (Ogbodo, 2012). During its six-decade tenure, the ICJ has amassed a couple of successes. During its formative years, it catered to European and North American states. But as the colonial era came to an end, African, Middle Eastern, and Asia Pacific states have had their cases heard and adjudicated by the ICJ. This signifies its growth as an international court. The court’s judicial work has also diversified progressively over the years. Currently, the ICJ has been called upon to address disputes addressing transnational issues such as human rights rather than the traditional cases of boundaries and diplomatic relations. More so, enforcement of the court’s rulings has been exemplary.
However, despite enjoying better success than its predecessor, the ICJ has not had smooth sailing. Being an international court, it does not have the same powers as supranational courts as widely expounded on by H.E. Mr. Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf in his speech before the Royal Academy of Belgium (Yusuf, 2018). The major challenge facing the ICJ is its limited compulsory jurisdiction. The ICJ is not allowed to adjudicate any case without consent from the concerned parties. The process of election and re-election of ICJ judges also poses a threat to impartiality. This is because of the influence wielded by the UN General Assembly and Security Council. Judges have to win a majority contest. To do so, they rely on their respective countries to drum up support. The Security Council’s permanent members’ role in the ICJ is also another bone of contention. By having veto power on the Court’s ruling, adjudication is highly impacted.
Challenges facing the International Court of Justice have been there since its inception and even before its inception. Its predecessor, PCIJ, only lasted twenty-four years compared to the six decades the ICJ has been active. This means that even though cases of the ICJ losing its influence in the 21st century have been rife, the Court has been partly successful by being active for such a long period. Therefore, in a bid to curb this downward spiral the ICJ might be facing, there are a few major issues that need addressing. These include previously mentioned issues such as limited jurisdiction, UN Security Council permanent member representation and veto power, election and re-election system of judges, combined with the process of nominating of ad hoc judges by parties need addressing.
In my opinion, the main issue facing the International Court of Justice is its limited compulsory jurisdiction. This is because the ICJ, as an international court, is tasked with the responsibility of assisting in the resolution of disputes between states, and providing advisory opinions to specified international organizations. Such a mandate needs relevant policies to ensure the court is working as effectively and efficiently as planned. Therefore, curtailing its power to exercise legally binding judicial power over a subject without consent goes against this. Under Article 36 of the ICJ Statute, parties related to the case in question have to provide consent either unconditionally or on condition (Ogbodo, 2012). Conditional consent may be upon reciprocity or limited time. This serves as a prerequisite for the exercise of the Court’s jurisdiction.
Consent can be derived from several areas with seven being the most common ones. These range from special agreements between the disputing parties, jurisdictional clauses included in treaties, compulsory jurisdiction, forum prorogation to the Court determining its jurisdiction or revision of judgment as long as there’s a discovery that could change the nature of the ruling. By allowing a wide range of avenues for providing consent, the ICJ’s jurisdiction is diversified allowing it to pursue more cases. However, Article 65 of the ICJ Statute provides a confusing statement that further leads to more questions regarding ICJ’s advisory jurisdiction. It states that whatever body can invoke the Court’s advisory jurisdiction. The term, whatever body, does not state the much-needed requirements for the organization in question. This further weakens ICJ’s mandate and, subsequently, its jurisdiction.
Back to the issue of contentious jurisdiction, different judicial bodies derive their authority from different sources. National courts derive their authority from the country’s constitution. Supranational courts, such as the one created by the European Union, derives its authority from laws and regulations formulated by the EU. However, when it comes to an international court, the source of authority is more complex. Different nations, continents and trading blocs have different perspectives of the law, policies, and regulations. Thus, attempting to have one judicial body ruling over contrasting states requires more insights and thought. By making it compulsory to abide by the ICJ’s ruling, the UN may face a backlash from nations that feel they are targeted or have not been consulted in the drafting of a global constitution to follow.
As of now, four out of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council have already rejected the ICJ’s ruling in the past. By doing so, their actions have contributed to undermining the ICJ. Minority states would possibly shun the ICJ as a result in the event of international disputes or reject the Court’s ruling if it is not favorable. The five permanent members of the UN Security Council have veto power over ICJ rulings and a representative. On top of weakening the ICJ’s stand in adjudicating international cases, it raises an issue of clouding impartial rulings. Judges have to rely on their countries to get elected into the ICJ, making them loyal to their countries. Furthermore, the prospect of re-election after nine years, coupled with no retirement age, might sway the judges to base their rulings on merit rather than facts.
The 21st century has transformed the world into a digital village with technology, bringing nations closer through top-notch infrastructure. Countries now face the threat of fast and uncontrolled information, raising complex issues in regards to sovereignties. As a result, this means that the ICJ also needs to adapt to technology by coming up with digital ideas to smoothen its process. The ICJ, as the principal judicial organ of the United Nations and the world, should look to tackle emerging global issues such as environmental protection, human trafficking, drug trafficking, and terrorism. These are the prevailing issues that need to tackling at the moment. I also support the recommendations presented by Ogbodo (2012) stating that the election and re-election process of ICJ judges should be overhauled, the permanent member state judges removed, and the acceptance of ICJ compulsory jurisdiction.

Ogbodo, S. Gozie (2012) “An Overview of the Challenges Facing the International Court of Justice in the 21st Century,” Annual Survey of International & Comparative Law: Vol. 18: Iss. 1, Article 7.
Yusuf, A. (2018). The strengths and challenges for supranational justice: the growing role of the International Court of Justice. Retrieved 31 January 2020, from

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