The International Court of Justice (ICJ) sometimes called the World Court, is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations (UN). The ICJ’s primary functions are to settle international legal disputes submitted by states (contentious cases) and give advisory opinions on legal issues referred to it by the UN (advisory proceedings). Through its opinions and rulings, it serves as a source of international law.
The ICJ is the successor of the Permanent Court of International Justice (PCIJ), which was established by the League of Nations in 1920 and began its first session in 1922. After the Second World War, both the League and the PCIJ were succeeded by the United Nations and ICJ, respectively. The Statute of the ICJ draws heavily from that of its predecessor, and the latter’s decisions remain valid. All members of the UN are party to the ICJ Statute.
The ICJ comprises a panel of 15 judges elected by the General Assembly and Security Council for nine-year terms. The court is seated in the Peace Palace in The Hague, Netherlands, making it the only principal U.N. organ not located in New York City. Its official working languages are English and French.