Tips for Being an Advocate in The International Court of Justice (ICJ)  by Merve Ceren ÇIRAĞ

What is ‘’International Court of Justice’’

‘’Sometimes called the ‘World Court’, the ICJ is one of the six principal organs of the United Nations (UN). It settles disputes between states and gives advisory opinions on international legal issues referred to it by the UN. Its opinions and rulings serve as sources of international law.’’ 

The headquarter is located in The Hague, the Netherlands. The competence of the ICJ and its lawsuits are regulated by the Statute of International Court of Justice which has 70 clauses and all these clauses have a different significance and meaning in the case.

It contains 15 judges. In total, there are 4 advocates (2 from each representing and responding party) found to defend their country on the case. 15 Judges are elected from different countries so that different legal systems in the world can be represented. In court, multiple citizens of the same nationality cannot be a judge at the same time.

The judges on the ICJ are a set of independent judges who have excessive moral character, who meet the conditions required to perform the very best judicial responsibilities connected to their country, or who are selected as lawyers, who are qualified as lawyers inside the discipline of global law. (1st clause/ Article 2 of the Statute)

First and the Last Cases of the ICJ

The first case entered in the General List of the Court ‘’Corfu Channel (the United Kingdom v. Albania)’’ was submitted on 22 May 1947. From the advent of the United Nations, some 12 States had unsuccessfully carried out for admission. Their programs had been rejected by the Security Council as a result of a veto imposed by one or more of the States that are permanent members of the Council. A proposal then became made for the admission of all the applicants at the same time. The General Assembly referred the question to the Court. In the translation, it gave of Article four of the Charter of the United Nations, in its Advisory Opinion of 28 May 1948, the Court declared that the situations laid down for the admission of States had been exhaustive and that if these conditions have been fulfilled via a State which was a candidate, the Security Council must make the advice which would enable the General Assembly to decide upon the admission.

The last case is ‘’Legal Consequences of the Separation of the Chagos Archipelago from Mauritius in 1965’’ from 2017 to 2019. On 22 June 2017 the General Assembly adopted resolution 71/292, in which, regarding Article sixty-five of the Statute of the Court, it asked the Court to render an advisory opinion. Thirty-one Member States of the United Nations and the African Union filed written statements, and ten States and the African Union filed written comments on the written statements. Ten states and the African Union eventually presented written remarks on these written statements. The Twenty-one States and the African Union participated in the oral proceedings, which happened from three to 6 September 2018.

And the other last case is ‘’Jadhav (India v. Pakistan)’’ in 2017 to 2019. On 8 May 2017, India filed an Application instituting proceedings against Pakistan in regards to a dispute regarding alleged violations of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations of 24 April 1963 “inside the remember of the detention and trial of an Indian national, Mr Kulbhushan Sudhir Jadhav”, who had been sentenced to death through a navy court in Pakistan in April 2017. India claimed that Pakistan had failed to inform it, without delay, of the arrest and detention of its national. It similarly contended that Mr Jadhav had no longer been informed of his rights beneath Article 36 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations and that India’s consular officers had been denied admission to Mr Jadhav whilst he was held in custody, detention, and prison, and were unable to speak and correspond with him, or arrange for his felony representation. As the foundation for the Court’s jurisdiction, India referred in its Application to Article 36, paragraph 1, of the Statute of the Court and Article I of the Optional Protocol to the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations regarding the Compulsory Settlement of Disputes.

Between 22 May 1947 and 11 November 2019, 178 cases were entered in General List.

These three cases were just examples but you can find the decisions about the lawsuits and parties’ attitudes on the ICJ’s internet side.

The Jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice

The ICJ has two purposes. The first is to settle the disputes between the States. The second is to give an advisory opinion. It encompasses matters brought to it by countries which are events to a global dispute and especially those envisaged within the UN Treaty or the modern international treaties. Countries having opposing views on the matter may seek to reach a consensus by appealing to the authority of the court.

In the case of participants of the United Nations, who are not represented within the Continuous Arbitration Court, the candidates can be demonstrated through the countrywide clusters appointed via their governments to use the conditions stipulated in Article forty-four of the 1907 La Haye Convention on a non-violent agreement of global disputes. (4th clause)

At least 3 months before the election date, the Secretary-General of the United Nations can take delivery of members of the States celebration to this Statute at the Continuous Arbitration Tribunal and participants of the countrywide cluster appointed by way of paragraph 2 of Article 4, in countrywide clusters. May also call individuals who are in writing to appoint within a certain period. (5th clause)

Jurisdiction on the Settlement of the Dispute Between States

 Only States take legal actions against each other before ICJ (Article 35/1 of the Statute). Therefore persons cannot be claimant or defendant before the ICJ. According to Article 36 of the Statute, the ICJ has jurisdiction in all legal disputes concerning:

-the interpretation of a treaty;

  -any question of global law;

  -the lifestyles of any truth which, if established, would constitute a breach of an international obligation;

  -the character and quantity of the reparation to be made for the breach of an international obligation.

It must be underlined that the states have to take delivery of the jurisdiction of the ICJ in writing. If a State accepts the Statute then it is deemed to offer its consent to the jurisdiction of the ICJ. Otherwise, no cease can be filed towards the state which is not widespread the jurisdiction of the ICJ in writing. However, there may be an exception to this rule. 

If a state accepts the jurisdiction of the ICJ after it receives the petition and lifts no objection to the jurisdiction then the ICJ jurisdiction is realized.

Advisory Jurisdiction

As is stated only the States can be claimant or respondent before the ICJ. Even international organizations cannot be parties to a case filed at the ICJ. However, international organizations can apply an advisory procedure. This procedure is a special procedure. 

The international organization which applies to the advisory procedure is limited. The advisory procedure is open to only five United Nations organs, fifteen specialized agencies, and one related organization. 

These UN organs are UN General Assembly, UN Security Council, UN Economic, and Social Council. The fifteen specialized agencies are international Labour Organization (ILO), Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), World Health Organization (WHO), International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), International Finance Corporation (IFC), International Development Association (IDA), International Monetary Fund (IMF), International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), International Telecommunication Union (ITU), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), World Meteorological Organization (WMO), International Maritime Organization (IMO), World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO). The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is also entitled to ask advisory opinion from the ICJ.

The Meaning of “Advocate”

‘’Advocate’’ means a person who publicly supports or recommends a particular cause or policy or a person who puts a case on someone else’s behalf.

As we all know in the ICJ there should be 4 advocates each party has 2 representatives. Before the MUN conferences, judges do not know about the case and the plaintiff countries before the conference. It shows that there is nothing to work before the conference. But it is not the same for advocates because they must prepare their memorandum and evidence list to explain and defend themselves. 

In memorandums, they explain themselves from their perspective with examples and the real incident. After each party gives a presentation they open themselves for a question that will come from judges. Then the evidence lists begin to be read and the question, answer part is started immediately. Later on, when the deliberation session starts they should leave the court. So judges and the presidency can vote their memorandums and evidence list credibility and other evaluations. Besides they decide on the witnesses. Every witness has to take testify before the court and answer the questions from the judges. In the end, the party with the highest score while in the deliberation sessions wins the court.

One thing is the opponent advocates cannot ask and answer any questions to the other party. It is a strict rule. Also, advocates cannot send a note paper to judges. We can understand that they do not have a direct relation with others. 

Words and Meanings Have to Know If You Are Going to Be an Advocate

  1. Applicant Party:

The applicant is the party that brings the case to the court. They should make opening statements, presentation of evidence, training of evidence, and rebuttals.

  1. Memorandum:

A written document that consists of the ancient background of the dispute. The memoranda contain, however now not restricted to: list of treaties, resolutions, ancient and legal historical past. The end of the memoranda is the party’s judgment asked the Court, which may be used for evaluation of the verdict.

  1. Deliberation:

During deliberation sessions, judges talk about the case way and supplied on the Court without the presence of advocates. All discussions for the duration of deliberation are confidential so advocates must leave the courtroom.

  1. Objections:

During the trial, advocates have the proper to item activities by the opposing party. Objections can be include but are not restrained to an explanation of non-credible evidence, grapevine, and leading questions. And also decisions and claims through the Presidency cannot be objected.

  1. Rebuttal Evidence:

Pieces of evidence moved in the rebuttal phase.

How Did I manage to Live In the ICJ Committee?

I have a judge and advocate experience. If you do not have a judge experience you cannot be an advocate.

Judge Experience

So my first judge experience was also my second MUN experience and was HPALMUN’19. It was a bit complicated for me because I did not know anything about ICJ and also about the memorandum, deliberation, witness, etc. 

First of all, as I mentioned at the top it started with advocates’ memorandum reading and questioning. After continuing with rebuttal evidence and again questioning.

When the deliberation time has come advocates gone and the presidency gave us some pieces of evidence to clarify if it is believable or not, also credibility or consistency. After the voting procedure advocates came and continue with questioning their pieces of evidence. Do not forget that it is strictly and forbidden for advocates to learn voting results because they will learn after the court finish.

Sometimes I find it difficult to focus on the court because the court is progressing fast and you have to listen carefully and take notes. All the time you can hear ‘’Judges please take notes’’ from the presidency. Because these notes will help you when witnesses come. 

One of the things I remember was that advocates had distress and hardship, finding witnesses. So I recommend you before witnesses session start o prepare your witnesses for the court because judges will fire questions and it will affect the deliberation session (voting).

Advocate Experience

I became an advocate with my friend in IELMUN’19 as a representative of Colombia. 

The case was ‘’Aerial Spraying (Ecuador v. Colombia), in 2008 to 2013’’. It was about Colombia a country that has long been fighting illicit drug cultivation. A large part of rural land is disputed between Colombia, FARC, and drug lords thus contributing to illicit drug cultivation. Over 69.000 Hectares of Land is used for coca production. The effects caused by drug production and the war on drugs has not been well for Colombia. From 1990 the total deaths and injured people numbers are Over 450.000 Deaths caused by homicides, murder… Over two times the amount injured Between 2.5 Million and 4 Million Displaced. (Memorandum of Columbia)’’.

It was not an easy job because judges were determined and sceptical so they asked lots of questions but don’t let that scare you. If you present your matter in dispute you will defend and won’t have any problems or any difficulties. If we look at the total, it was a different and useful experience for me. It helped me to learn legal terms and herewith information during my research.

If you are interested in ICJ I suggest you be a judge and then advocate. You will never regret joining the ICJ committee. On the other hand, they give you a gown and it looks very cool and governmental.

Merve Ceren ÇIRAĞ

Content Producer Team Member



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