|1.||International Court of Justice|
(MULTILATERAL GOVERNMENT) Also known as the world court; tribunal for trying civil cases, i.e., court cases involving torts, liabilities, and disputes in international law. Separate and distinct from the International Criminal Court (ICC). Based in the Hague, a coastal city in the Netherlands.
The Court is composed of 15 judges, who are elected for terms of office of nine years by the United Nations General Assembly and the United Nations Security Council. It is assisted by a Registry, its administrative organ. Its official languages are English and French.
Only States (States Members of the United Nations and other States which have become parties to the Statute of the Court or which have accepted its jurisdiction under certain conditions) may be parties to contentious cases.
The International Court of Justice was created in 1945 by the UN Charter. Unfortunately, the USA withdrew from ICJ jurisdiction in 1986*, and only accepts its involvement on a case-by-case basis.
*The Reagan Administration withdrew from the ICJ when the later ruled that the USA was in violation of the UN Charter by mining the territorial waters of Nicaragua, etc.
|2.||International Criminal Court|
(MULTILATERAL GOVERNMENT) International court created in 2002 to try criminal cases (as opposed to civil cases) in international law. Criminal charges may include: genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. Ultimately, the ICC is supposed to be able to try crimes against the peace (or aggression), something it presently cannot do.
The three basic categories of international crimes were defined in the Nuremberg Trials of Nazi officials. However, because the Nuremberg Tribunals only tried citizens of Axis nations for crimes against Allied or neutral states, their moral authority was greatly weakened.
The ICC complements the International Court of Justice (ICJ), which tries civil cases.
Even before the International Criminal Court commenced operations in 2002, it was critically weakened by the vociferous opposition of China, the USA, Israel, Iraq (then under the rule of Saddam Hussein), and Libya. These countries went so far as to vote against the Treaty of Rome (1998). The US government subsequently signed the treaty (December 2000), but "unsigned" it in May 2002.
One other country to do this has been Sudan.
India, Indonesia, Pakistan, and China have never signed the treaty; Russia, Egypt, and Israel have signed it, but not ratified it.