Statute of the International Court of Justice
San Francisco, 26 June 1945
  •  Introductory Note 
  •  Procedural History 
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F o r t h c o m i n g
Introductory note by Antônio Augusto Cançado Trindade

23 September 1957, International Court of Justice, Peace Palace, The Hague, Netherlands Located at The Hague, in the Netherlands, the International Court of Justice is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations. It settles legal disputes between States and gives advisory opinions to the United Nations and its specialized agencies. Its Statute is an integral part of the United Nations Charter.

The Court is open to all States that are parties to its Statute, which include all members of the United Nations. Only States may be parties in contentious cases before the Court and submit disputes to it. The Court is not open to private persons and entities or international organizations.

The General Assembly and the Security Council can ask the Court for an advisory opinion on any legal question. Other organs of the United Nations and the specialized agencies, when authorized by the Assembly, can ask for advisory opinions on legal questions within the scope of their activities.

[The United Nations Today, United Nations Publication (Sales No. E.08.I.6), p. 12]


 
 
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The Statute of the Permanent Court of International Justice
The Statute of the International Court of Justice

The Statute of the Permanent Court of International Justice

8 April 1945, First working session of the Committee of Jurists, Inter-Departmental Auditorium, Washington, DC. Under article 14 of the Covenant of the League of Nations, the Council was called to “formulate and submit to the Members of the League for adoption plans for the establishment of a Permanent Court of International Justice”. At its second session, in 1920, the Council appointed an Advisory Committee of Jurists, which held thirty-five meetings in The Hague between 16 June and 24 July 1920. On 24 July 1920, the Committee adopted a report, to be submitted to the Council of the League of Nations, which contained draft articles of the statute of the Court (Procès verbaux of the Proceedings of the Committee, p. 693), as well as three resolutions. The establishment of an international court was considered by the Council at its eighth session, held in San Sebastián from 30 July to 5 August 1920, and at its tenth session, held in Brussels from 20 to 28 October 1920. After having examined the draft submitted by the Committee and made some amendments to it, the Council adopted a report that was submitted to the First Assembly of the League of Nations, which opened in Geneva in November 1920 (Documents concerning the Action Taken by the Council of the League of Nations under Article 14 of the Covenant and the Adoption by the Assembly of the Statute of the Permanent Court, pp. 20 ff.). The Assembly referred the question of the draft scheme for an international court of justice to its Third Committee, which, on 22 November 1920, decided to appoint a sub-committee for the purpose of considering the question in detail. The sub-committee held ten meetings from 11 November to 7 December 1920, at which the articles of the draft statute were discussed (ibid., pp. 82 ff.). On 7 December, the sub-committee adopted a report containing the results of its work, which was submitted to the Third Committee, where it was considered on 8 December 1920 (ibid., p. 96). On 11 December, the Third Committee adopted unanimously the draft statute as a whole, and submitted it to the Assembly (ibid., p. 172). The draft statute was considered by the First Assembly at the twentieth and twenty-first plenary meetings on 13 December 1920 (ibid., pp. 225 ff.). At the latter meeting, the draft Statute, as amended by the Assembly, was adopted unanimously. In a resolution of the same day, the Assembly called the Council to submit to the members of the League of Nations a protocol adopting the Statute and decided that the Statute should come into force as soon as the protocol had been ratified by a majority of member States (ibid., p. 257). The protocol was opened for signature on 16 December 1920 and, by the time of the next meeting of the Assembly, in September 1921, it had been ratified by a majority of member States and thus entered into force (League of Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 6, p. 379 and p. 390 (Statute)).

The Statute of the Permanente Court of International Justice was amended once, in 1929. In view of the re-election of the members of the Court to be held in 1930, the French delegate suggested at the 1928 session of the Assembly that the Statute of the Court be re-examined. Pursuant to a resolution adopted by the Assembly on 20 September 1928, on 13 December the same year, the Council established a Committee of Jurists to “report what amendments appear desirable in the various provisions of the Court’s Statute” (fourth and fifth mtgs. of the Council, Official Journal, January 1929 pp. 35 and 56). The Committee met in Geneva between 11 and 19 March 1929 and adopted, inter alia, a report containing a number of resolutions and recommendations which were submitted to the Council (Committee of Jurists on the Statute of the Permanent Court of International Justice, Minutes, 1929, p. 118). On 12 June 1929, the Council, after having considered the report of the Committee, decided to convoke a conference of States parties to the Statute with a view to examining the amendments and recommendations formulated by the Committee. This Conference, at which representatives of the 48 States parties to the Statute participated, was held from 4 to 12 September 1929. At its last meeting on 12 September, the Conference adopted a draft Protocol to the Statute (Conference regarding the Revision of the Statute of the Permanent Court of International Justice, Minutes, 1929, Annex 12), which was submitted to the Assembly. The Revision Protocol was adopted by the Assembly on 14 September 1929, and entered into force on 1 February 1936 (League of Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 165, p. 353).

The Statute of the International Court of Justice

In 1942, the Secretary of State of the United States and the Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom declared themselves in favour of the establishment or re-establishment of an international court after the war. In the same year, the Inter-American Juridical Committee recommended the extension of the jurisdiction of the Permanent Court. Early in 1943, the British Government took the initiative of inviting a number of experts to London to constitute an informal Inter-Allied Committee on the Future of the Permanent Court of International Justice to examine the matter. This Committee held nineteen meetings and published a report with its recommendations on 10 February 1944.

The “Proposals for the Establishment of a General International Organization”, adopted on 9 October 1944 at the conclusion of the Dumbarton Oaks Conference (see the procedural history of the Charter of the United Nations) contained provisions relating to the establishment of an international court of justice in the framework of such international organization.  On behalf of the four Powers represented at Dumbarton Oaks, the United States thereafter convened in Washington, in April 1945, the United Nations Committee of Jurists, representing 44 States, entrusted with the preparation of a draft statute for the future court. The draft prepared by this committee, which was based to a large extent upon that of the Permanent Court, left a number of issues unresolved, including the question whether a new court should be created. It was submitted to the United Nations Conference on International Organization, convened in San Francisco on 25 April 1945. At this Conference, the decision was made to create a new court, which, under Article 92 of the Charter of the United Nations finally adopted, “shall be the principal judicial organ of the United Nations” and shall function in accordance with its Statute “based upon the Statute of the Permanent Court of International Justice”.  Under the same provision, the Statute of the International Court of Justice, annexed to the Charter of the United Nations, forms an integral part of the Charter.  It was adopted unanimously, together with the Charter, at the end of the Conference, on 25 June 1945, and entered into force, in accordance with Article 110, paragraph 3, of the Charter, on 24 October 1945.

The Permanent Court met for the last time in October 1945 and its judges resigned on 31 January 1946. The first members of the International Court of Justice were elected at the ninth meeting of the Security Council (S/PV.9) and at the 23rd, 24th and 25th meetings of the General Assembly (A/PV.23, 24 and 25), on 6 February 1946, in accordance with Articles 2 to 15 of the Statute of the Court. The Court met for the first time at the Peace Palace on 3 April 1946 and elected its President, Vice-President and Registrar on 6 April. On 17 April 1946, the Permanent Court of International Justice was formally dissolved by a resolution of the League of Nation (Official Journal of the League of Nations, special supplement No. 194, p.100 (1946) (A.35.1946)). The International Court of Justice held an inaugural public seating on 18 April 1946.


Text of the Statute: العربيةEnglish 中文English EnglishEnglish FrançaisEnglish РусскийEnglish EspañolEnglish

Selected preparatory documents
(in chronological order)

Treaty of Peace between the Allied and Associated Powers and Germany, Part I: Covenant of the League of Nations, Versailles, 28 June 1919, League of Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 1, p. 403 (registered but not reproduced) (See also, 1 League of Nations O. J. 3 (1920) Covenant of the League of Nations)

Procès-Verbal of the Second Session of the Council of the League of Nations (11-13 February 1920), 1 League of Nations O. J. 29 (1920), pp. 33-37 (Report on the Organisation of a Permanent Court of International Justice)

Advisory Committee of Jurists, Documents Presented to the Committee Relating to Existing Plans for the Establishment of a Permanent Court of International Justice, 1920

Advisory Committee of Jurists, Procès verbaux of the Proceedings of the Committee, June 16th - July 24th 1920, with Annexes, 1920

Procès-Verbal of the Eighth Session of the Council of the League of Nations (30 July-5 August 1920), 1 League of Nations O. J. 304 (1920), p. 318 (Report of the Committee of Jurists at The Hague)

Procès-Verbal of the Tenth Session of the Council of the League of Nations (20-28 October 1920), 1 League of Nations O. J. 4 (1920), p. 12 (Permanent Court of International Justice)

Protocol of Signature relating to the Statute of the Permanent Court of International Justice provided for by Article 14 of the Covenant of the League of Nations, Geneva, 16 December 1920, League of Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 6, p. 379 and p. 390 (Statute)

Documents concerning the action taken by the Council of the League of Nations under Article 14 of the Covenant and the adoption by the Assembly of the Statute of the Permanent Court, 1921

Fourth Meeting of the Council of the League of Nations, 13 December 1928 (fifty-third session), 10 League of Nations O. J. 35 (1929) (Question of the Revision of the Statute of the Permanent Court of International Justice: Resolution adopted by the Assembly on September 20, 1928)

Fifth Meeting of the Council of the League of Nations, 14 December 1928  (fifty-third session), 10 League of Nations O. J. 56 (1929) (Question of the Revision of the Statute of the Permanent Court of International Justice (continuation))

Committee of Jurists on the Statute of the Permanent Court of International Justice, Minutes of the Session, held at Geneva, March 11th-19th, 1929

Second Meeting of the Council of the League of Nations, 12 June 1929 (fifty-fifth session) 10 League of Nations O. J. 996 (1929), (Question of the Revision of the Statute of the Permanent Court of International Justice, Report of the Committee appointed by the Council in December 1928)

Minutes of the Conference Regarding the Revision of the Statute of the Permanent Court of International Justice and the Accession of the United States of America to the Protocol of Signature of that Statute, held at Geneva from September 4th to 12th, 1929, 1929

Protocol for the Revision of the Statute of the Permanent Court of International Justice, Geneva, 14 September 1929, League of Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 165, p. 353

Report of the Inter-Allied Committee on the Future of the Permanent Court of International Justice, 10 February 1944, British Parliamentary Papers, Misc., No, 2 (1944), Cmd. 6531 (Reproduced in Supplement to the American Journal of International Law (1945), vol. 39, p. 1)

Proposals for the Establishment of a General International Organization, 9 October 1944,
Documents of the United Nations Conference on International Organization, San Francisco, vol. XIV, p. 453

Report on draft Statute of an International Court of Justice referred to in Chapter VII of the Dumbarton Oaks Proposals, submitted by the United Nations Committee of Jurists to the United Nations Conference on International Organization at San Francisco, April 25, 1945, Documents of the United Nations Conference on International Organization, San Francisco, vol. XIV, p. 821

Documents of the United Nations Conference on International Organization, San Francisco, volumes I to XX, 1945-1954 (see in particular voluments XIII and XIV)

Security Council, Verbatim record of the ninth meeting held on 6 February 1946 (S/PV.9)

General Assembly, Verbatim records of plenary meetings Nos. 23 to 25 held on 6 February 1946 (A/PV.23, 24 and 25)


The Statute of the International Court of Justice entered into force on 24 October 1945. For the current participation status of the Statute, as well as information and relevant texts of related treaty actions, such as reservations, declarations, objections, denunciations and notifications, see:

The Status of Multilateral Treaties Deposited with the Secretary-General

For the declarations recognizing as compulsory the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice under Article 36, paragraph 2, of the Statute of the Court, see:

The website of the International Court of Justice

Statements
"League of Nations at Work", a documentary on the work of the League of Nations
Presentation of the Permanent Court of International Justice

Video (39 seconds, Full version)
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Documentary on the San Francisco Conference, 25 April to 26 June 1945
Video (4 minutes, Full version)
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Play Statement by Lord Halifax, President of the Ninth Session of the Conference, 25 June 1945
The Charter of the United Nations and the Statute of the International Court of Justice are put to the vote and both adopted.

Video (1 minute, English)
Play Statement by Mr. Harry Truman, President of the United States of America, 26 June 1945
Closing of the plenary session of the Conference.

Video (1 minute, English)
International Court of Justice, Peace Palace, The Hague, Netherlands, 26 February 1948: Oral proceeding on the Corfu Channel Case (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland v. Albania)
Video (8 minutes, Full version)
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Play Statement by Mr. Guerrero (San Salvador), President of the International Court of Justice
Video (1 minute, Español)
Play Statement by Mr. Hartley Shawcross, Attorney General of the United Kingdom
Video (4 minutes, English)
Play Statement by Mr. Kahreman Ylli, Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary of Albania in Paris
Video (2 minutes, Français)
Press Conference with Mr. F.S. Arkhurst, United Nations Headquarters, New York, 19 July 1966: Press Conference convened by Ambassador F.S. Arkhurst (Ghana), on behalf of the African members of the United Nations, to express the initial reaction of the African Group to the judgment of the International Court of Justice of 18 July 1966 on the South West Africa Cases.
Video (15 minutes, Full version)
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Play Statement by Mr. Arkhurst, Chairman of the African Group
Video (7 minutes, English)
Play Questions and Answers
Video (7 minutes, English)
International Court of Justice, Peace Palace, The Hague, Netherlands, 23 October 1968: Opening of the oral proceedings on the North Sea Continental Shelf Cases (Denmark vs. Federal Republic of Germany; Federal Republic of Germany vs. Denmark)
Video (2 minutes, Full version)
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Documentary on the International Court of Justice, including an interview with Mr. Jimenez de Arechaga, President of the Court (1976-1979)
Video (16 minutes, Full version)
Play
The International Court of Justice, Institutional film produced by the Information Department of the Court, 2011
Video (19 minutes, English, Full version)
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The International Court of Justice, Institutional film produced by the Information Department of the Court, 2011
Video (19 minutes, Français, Full version)
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The International Court of Justice, Institutional film produced by the Information Department of the Court, 2011
Video (19 minutes, 中文, Full version)
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The International Court of Justice, Institutional film produced by the Information Department of the Court, 2011
Video (19 minutes, 한국어, Full version)
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Additional audiovisual materials are available on the
multimedia page of the International Court of Justice

See also ICJ Live Channel and ICJ Videos on Demand on UN Web TV (under Meetings & Events)


8 April 1945 - First working session of the Committee of Jurists, Inter-Departmental Auditorium, Washington, DC. 9 April 1945 - Meeting of the Committee of Jurists, Inter-Departmental Auditorium, Washington, D.C.: arrival of the representatives of States. (Photo Credit: UN Photo) 9 April 1945 - Meeting of the Committee of Jurists, Inter-Departmental Auditorium, Washington, D.C.: arrival of the representatives of States. (Photo Credit: UN Photo) 25 April 1945 - San Francisco Conference, meeting of Commission IV (Judicial Organization), Committee 1 (International Court of Justice): Dr. Jalal Abdoh, Majlis (Iran) (left); and Mr. Virgilio R. Galvez (Honduras) (right). (Photo Credit: UN Photo)
8 April 1945
First working session of the Committee of Jurists, Inter-Departmental Auditorium, Washington, DC.
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9 April 1945
Meeting of the Committee of Jurists, Inter-Departmental Auditorium, Washington, D.C. [Read more]
9 April 1945
Meeting of the Committee of Jurists, Inter-Departmental Auditorium, Washington, D.C. [Read more]
25 April 1945
San Francisco Conference, meeting of Commission IV (Judicial Organization), Committee 1 (International Court of Justice)
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25 April 1945 - San Francisco Conference, meeting of Commission IV (Judicial Organization), Committee 1 (International Court of Justice) (left to right): Mr. Miguel Cruchaga (Chile); Mr. Eduardo Zuleta Angel (Colombia); and Mr. Ernesto Dihigo Lopez Trigo (Cuba). (Photo Credit: UN Photo) 25 April 1945 - San Francisco Conference, meeting of Commission IV (Judicial Organization), Committee 1 (International Court of Justice) (left to right): Mr. Francisco A. Delgado (Philippines); Mr. Lars J. Jorstad (Norway); seated next to him at the table are Mr. Roberto Cordova ( Mexico) (in background); Verbatim Reporter (centre front); Ms. Marjorie Whiteman (United States; Mr. Green H. Hackworth (United States); and Mr. John Maktos, Assistant Secretary for the Committee. (Photo Credit: UN Photo) 25 April 1945 - San Francisco Conference, meeting of Commission IV (Judicial Organization), Committee 1 (International Court of Justice): Mr. S.B. Krylov (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics), addressing the Committee. (Photo credit: UN Photo) 25 April 1945 -
San Francisco Conference, meeting of Commission IV (Judicial Organization), Committee 1 (International Court of Justice) (left to right): Mr. Manuel C. Gallagher (Peru); Mr. John Halderman, Secretary of the Committee; and Mr. Norman Padelford, Executive Officer of the Committee. (Photo credit: UN Photo)
25 April 1945
San Francisco Conference, meeting of Commission IV (Judicial Organization), Committee 1 (International Court of Justice)
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25 April 1945
San Francisco Conference, meeting of Commission IV (Judicial Organization), Committee 1 (International Court of Justice)
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25 April 1945
San Francisco Conference, meeting of Commission IV (Judicial Organization), Committee 1 (International Court of Justice)
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25 April 1945
San Francisco Conference, meeting of Commission IV (Judicial Organization), Committee 1 (International Court of Justice)
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25 April 1945 - San Francisco Conference, meeting of Commission IV (Judicial Organization), Committee 1 (International Court of Justice): observer from the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (U.N.R.R.A.). (Photo credit: UN Photo) 25 April 1945 - San Francisco Conference, meeting of Commission IV (Judicial Organization), Committee 1 (International Court of Justice): Mr. K.H. Bailey (Australia) (left) and Mr. Roberto Cordova (Mexico). (Photo credit: UN Photo) 4 May 1945 - San Francisco Conference, meeting of Commission IV (Judicial Organization), Committee 1 (International Court of Justice): Mr. Manuel C. Gallagher (Peru) presiding.(Photo credit: UN Photo) 1 January 1950 - International Court of Justice, Peace Palace, The Hague, Netherlands: a mother and her daughter in front of the statue of "Justicia".(Photo credit: UN Photo)
25 April 1945
San Francisco Conference, meeting of Commission IV (Judicial Organization), Committee 1 (International Court of Justice)
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25 April 1945
San Francisco Conference, meeting of Commission IV (Judicial Organization), Committee 1 (International Court of Justice)
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4 May 1945
San Francisco Conference, meeting of Commission IV (Judicial Organization), Committee 1 (International Court of Justice)
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1 January 1950
International Court of Justice, Peace Palace, The Hague, Netherlands
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1 May 1961 - International Court of Justice, Peace Palace, The Hague, Netherlands: section of the courtyard surrounding the Peace Palace. (Photo credit: UN Photo) 1 May 1962 - International Court of Justice, Peace Palace, The Hague, Netherlands: view of the Palace with the United Nations flag. (Photo credit: UN Photo)
23 September 1957
International Court of Justice, Peace Palace, The Hague, Netherlands
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1 January 1960
International Court of Justice, Peace Palace, The Hague, Netherlands
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1 May 1961
International Court of Justice, Peace Palace, The Hague, Netherlands
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1 May 1962
International Court of Justice, Peace Palace, The Hague, Netherlands
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14 July 1975 - Deliberations on the Western Sahara advisory opinion, International Court of Justice, The Hague, the Netherlands (left to right): Registrar G. Aquarone; Judge ad hoc Boni; Judge Nagendra Singh; Judge Eduardo Jimenez de Arechaga; Judge Federico de Castro; Judge Hardy C. Dillard; Judge Sture Petren; Judge Andre Gros; Vice-President Fouad Ammoun; President Manfred Lachsl; Judge Isaac Forster; Judge Cesar Bengzon; Judge Charles D. Onyeama; Judge Louis Ignacio-Pinto; Judge Platon D. Morozov; Judge Humphrey Waldock and Judge Jose Maria Ruda. (Photo credit: UN Photo) 16 July 1975 - Deliberations on the Western Sahara advisory opinion, International Court of Justice, The Hague, the Netherlands: Mr. Jose M. Lacleta, Legal Adviser to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Spain, addressing the Court. (Photo credit: UN Photo) 1 January 1976 - International Court of Justice, Peace Palace, The Hague, Netherlands: interior view of the Palace. (Photo credit: UN Photo) 1 January 1976 - International Court of Justice, Peace Palace, The Hague, Netherlands: interior view of the Palace. (Photo credit: UN Photo)
14 July 1975
Deliberations on the Western Sahara advisory opinion, International Court of Justice, The Hague, the Netherlands
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16 July 1975
Deliberations on the Western Sahara advisory opinion, International Court of Justice, The Hague, the Netherlands
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1 January 1976
International Court of Justice, Peace Palace, The Hague, Netherlands
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1 January 1976
International Court of Justice, Peace Palace, The Hague, Netherlands
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1 January 1984 - International Court of Justice, Peace Palace, The Hague, Netherlands: symbol depicting justice at the entrance to the Peace Palace. (Photo credit: UN Photo) 1 January 1984 - International Court of Justice, Peace Palace, The Hague, Netherlands: symbol depicting justice at the entrance to the Peace Palace. (Photo credit: UN Photo) 1 January 1993 - International Court of Justice, Peace Palace, The Hague, Netherlands: general view of the Palace. (Photo credit: UN Photo) 18 May 1999 - International Court of Justice, Peace Palace, The Hague, Netherlands: interior of the Palace. (Photo credit: UN Photo)
1 January 1984
International Court of Justice, Peace Palace, The Hague, Netherlands
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1 January 1984
International Court of Justice, Peace Palace, The Hague, Netherlands
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1 January 1993
International Court of Justice, Peace Palace, The Hague, Netherlands
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18 May 1999
International Court of Justice, Peace Palace, The Hague, Netherlands
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12 April 2006 - Sixtieth anniversary of the International Court of Justice, Peace Palace, The Hague, the Netherlands: wide view of the solemn sitting. (Photo credit: UN Photo)      
12 April 2006
Sixtieth anniversary of the International Court of Justice, Peace Palace, The Hague, the Netherlands
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