Comparison between International Court of Justice and International Criminal Court

International Court of Justice and International Criminal Court


International Court of Justice is the primary judicial branch of United Nations and settles legal disputes and provides advisory opinions submitted to it by its member states.

  • ICJ is a civil court.
  • UNSC enforces its court’s rulings.
  • ICJ is composed of 15 judges elected for 9 years term by the UNGA and UNSC.
  • International Court of Justice is one of the most important guarantors of peace, security and co-operation among states.

♦ India and ICJ

  • Justice Dalveer Bhandari currently serves as permanent judge at ICJ.
  • Recent ruling by ICJ, awarded Bangladesh more than 9,700 square miles in the Bay of Bengal, ending a maritime dispute spanning more than three decades.


International Criminal Court was set up after the ad hoc tribunals to deal with Rwanda war crimes proved ineffective.

  • ICC is a criminal court.
  • ICC is based on the principle of complementarity.
  • ICC was not created to supplant the authority of national courts. However, when a state’s legal system collapses or when a government is a perpetrator of heinous crimes, the ICC can exercise jurisdiction. ICC is a court of last resort.
  • USA opposed the ICC for fear that it will be used politically against U.S. nationals.
  • ICC ensures that those who commit serious human rights violations are held accountable. Justice helps promote lasting peace, enables victims to rebuild their lives and sends a strong message that perpetrators of serious international crimes will not go unpunished.

♦ India and ICC

  • India is not a party to ICC. The major objections of India to the Rome Statute are :
    • Since ICC is subordinate to UNSC, permanent members are vested with unbridled powers.
    • Terrorism and nuclear weapons usage is not in the purview of ICC.
  • There is criticism that India on signing up the Rome Statute, would immediately come under ICC jurisdiction for human right violations under AFSPA, abuses in Naga movement, Kashmir conflict.


Comparison between International Court of Justice & International Criminal Court


International Court of Justice

International Criminal Court

Established 1946 2002
Languages English and French English and French
Headquarter The Hague, The Netherlands The Hague, The Netherlands
Jurisdiction U.N. Member-states (i.e. National Governments) Individuals
Subject Matter Sovereignty, boundary disputes, maritime disputes, trade, natural resources, human rights, treaty violations, treaty interpretation, and more. Genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, crimes of aggression
Types of Cases

Civil Cases

(1) Contentious between parties,
(2) Advisory opinions

Criminal Cases

Criminal prosecution of individuals

Authorising Legal Mechanism States that ratify the U.N. Charter become parties to the ICJ Statute under Article 93.
Non-UN member states can also become parties to the ICJ by ratifying the ICJ Statute.
Each state must provide consent to any contentious case by explicit agreement, declaration, or treaty clause.
Rome Statute
Appeals None. The ICJ decision in a contentious case is binding upon the parties. If a State fails to comply with the judgementw, the issue may be taken to the UN Security Council, which has the authority to review, recommend, and decide upon enforcement. Appeals Chamber. Article 80 of the Rome Statute allows retention of an acquitted defendant pending appeal.
Funding UN-funded. Assessed contribution from state parties to the Rome Statute; voluntary contributions from the U.N.; voluntary contributions from governments, international organisations, individuals, corporations and other entities.
UN-Relationship Official court of the U.N., commonly referred to as the “World Court.” Independent. May receive case referrals from the UN Security Council. Can initiate prosecutions without UN action or referral.
Other Information Can give advisory opinions to UN bodies. Cannot try individuals. Applies International Law Uses International Law, as war crimes violate Geneva Convention.



p align=”justify”>Prepared by: Arvind

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