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Ms. Vera Gowlland-Debbas

Ms. Vera Gowlland-Debbas
Professor of Public International Law
Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (IHEID), Geneva

Biography Biography in PDF

Courts and Tribunals
International Court of Justice (ICJ)
The International Court of Justice
as the Principal Judicial Organ of the United Nations
The lecture approaches the International Court of Justice from the perspective of the specificity of the Court’s status within the framework of the United Nations and, in particular, the Organisation’s peace maintenance function; it thus underlines the close symbiosis between the Charter and the Statute and examines the way the Court conceives itself in turn as a “principal”, “judicial” and “principal judicial” organ as well as how this may affect its general role and responsibilities. It concludes that the dual functions of the Court - both as principal judicial organ of the UN and as World Court acting as an organ of international law - should increasingly come together and reduce the tensions and ambiguities inherent in this dédoublement fonctionnel.

Original Lecture
English  (63 minutes)

Lecture with simultaneous interpretation
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Courts and Tribunals
International Court of Justice (ICJ)
The International Court of Justice as the Principal Organ of the United Nations
Outline of Lecture PDF document (20.1 KB)
A. Legal Instruments
B. Jurisprudence
International Court of Justice,  Admission of a State to the United Nations (Charter, Art. 4), Advisory Opinion, I.C.J. Reports 1948, p. 57.

International Court of Justice, Competence of Assembly regarding admission to the United Nations, Advisory Opinion of 3 March 1950, I.C.J. Reports 1948, p. 4.

International Court of Justice, Corfu Channel Case (Merits), Judgment of 9 April 1949, I.C.J. Reports 1949, p. 4.

International Court of Justice, Reparation for injuries suffered in the service of the United Nations, Advisory Opinion of 11 April 1949, I.C.J. Reports 1949, p. 174.

International Court of Justice, Competence of Assembly regarding admission to the United Nations, Advisory Opinion of 3 March 1950, I.C.J. Reports 1950, p. 4.

International Court of Justice, Interpretation of Peace Treaties, Advisory Opinion, I.C.J. Reports 1950, p. 65.

International Court of Justice, Reservations to the Convention on Genocide, Advisory Opinion, I.C.J. Reports 1951, p. 15.

International Court of Justice, Anglo-Iranian Oil Co. case (jurisdiction), Judgment of 22 July 1952, I.C.J. Reports 1952, p. 93.

International Court of Justice, Effects of awards of compensation made by the U.N. Administrative Tribunal, Advisory Opinion of 13 July 1954, I.C.J. Reports 1954, p. 47.

International Court of Justice, Case concerning the Aerial Incident of July 27th, 1955 (Israel v. Bulgaria), Preliminary Objections, Judgment of 26 May 1959, I.C.J. Reports 1959, p. 127.

International Court of Justice, Constitution of the Maritime Safety Committee of the Inter-Governmental Maritime Consultative Organization, Advisory Opinion of 8 June 1960, I.C.J. Reports 1960, p. 150.

International Court of Justice, Certain Expenses of the United Nations (Article 17, paragraph 2, of the Charter), Advisory Opinion of 20 July 1962, I.C.J. Reports 1962, p. 151.

International Court of Justice, Case concerning the Northern Cameroons (Cameroon v. United Kingdom), Preliminary Objections, Judgment of 2 December 1963, I.C. J. Reports 1963, p. 15.

International Court of Justice, Barcelona Traction, Light and Power Company, Limited, Judgment, I.C.J. Reports 1970, p. 3.

International Court of Justice, Western Sahara, Advisory Opinion, I.C.J. Reports 1975, p. 12.

International Court of Justice, Aegean Sea Continental Shelf, Judgment, I.C.J. Reports 1978, p. 3.

International Court of Justice, United States Diplomatic and Consular Staff in Tehran, Judgment, I.C.J. Reports 1980, p. 3.

International Court of Justice, Military and Paramilitary Activities in and against Nicaragua (Nicaragua v. United States of America), Merits, Judgment, I.C.J. Reports 1986, p. 14.

International Court of Justice, Frontier Dispute, Judgment, I.C.J. Reports 1986, p. 554.

International Court of Justice, Elettronica Sicuala S.p.A. (ELSI), Judgment, I.C.J. Reports 1989, p. 15.

International Court of Justice, Applicability of Article VI, Section 22, of the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations, Advisory Opinion, I.C.J. Reports 1989, p. 177.

International Court of Justice, Certain Phosphate Lands in Nauru (Nauru v. Australia), Preliminary Objections, Judgment, I.C.J. Reports 1992, p. 240.

International Court of Justice, East Timor (Portugal v. Australia), Judgment, I.C.J. Reports 1995, p. 90.

International Court of Justice, Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons, Advisory Opinion, I.C.J. Reports 1996, p. 226.

International Court of Justice, Legality of the Use by a State of Nuclear Weapons in Armed Conflict, Advisory Opinion of 8 July 1996, I.C.J. Reports 1996, p. 66.

International Court of Justice, Questions of Interpretation and Application of the 1971 Montreal Convention arising from the Aerial Incident at Lockerbie (Libyan Arab Jamahiriya v. United States of America), Preliminary Objections, Judgment of 27 February 1998, I.C.J. Reports 1998, p. 115.

European Court of Human Rights, Grand Chamber, Loizidou v. Turkey, Judgment (Merits), no. 15318/89, Judgment of 28 July 1998.

International Court of Justice, Difference Relating to Immunity from Legal Process of a Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights, Advisory Opinion of 29 April 1999, I.C.J. Reports 1999, p. 62

International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, Prosecutor v. Duško Tadić, Judgment of 15 July 1999, Appeals Chamber.

International Court of Justice, Kasikili/Sedudu Island (Botswana/Namibia), Judgment, I.C.J. Reports 1999, p. 1045.

International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, Prosecutor v. Zejnil Delalic, et al. (The “Celebici case”), Judgment of 20 February 2001, Appeals Chamber.

International Court of Justice, LaGrand Case (Germany v. United States of America), Judgment, I.C.J. Reports 2001, p. 466.

International Court of Justice, Arrest Warrant of 11 April 2000 (Democratic Republic of the Congo v. Belgium), Judgment, I.C.J. Reports 2002, p. 3.

International Court of Justice, Oil Platforms (Islamic Republic of Iran v. United States of America), Judgment, I.C.J. Reports 2003, p. 161.

International Court of Justice, Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Advisory Opinion, I.C.J. Reports 2004, p. 136.

International Court of Justice, Legality of Use of Force (Serbia and Montenegro v. Belgium), Preliminary Objections, Judgment, I.C.J. Reports 2004, p. 279.

International Court of Justice, Armed Activities on the Territory of the Congo (Democratic Republic of the Congo v. Uganda), Judgment, I.C.J. Reports 2005, p. 168.
C. Documents
Proposals for the Establishment of a General International Organization, Washington, 7 October 1944.

Draft Statute of an International Court of Justice, Washington, 20 April 1945.

International Court of Justice, Rules of Court, 1978.

Security Council resolution 748 (1992) of 31 March 1992.

Security Council resolution 808 (1993) of 22 February 1993.

Security Council resolution 827 (1993) of 25 May 1993.

General Assembly resolution 50/54 (XV) of 11 December 1995 (Review of the procedure provided for under article 11 of the Statute of the Administrative Tribunal of the United Nations).
D. Doctrine
M.S.M. Amr, The Role of the International Court of Justice as the Principal Judicial Organ of the United Nations, Kluewer Law International, The Hague/New York, 2003.

M. Bedjaoui, “Les relations entre la Cour Internationale de Justice et les autres organes principaux des Nations Unies – Pour des rapports de seconde génération”, in B. Boutros-Ghali (ed.), Amicorum Discipulorumque Liber – Paix, développement, démocratie, Bruylant, Brussels, 1998, pp.175-225.

D. Bowett, “The Court’s Role in Relation to International Organizations”, in V. Lowe/M. Fitzmaurice (eds.), Fifty Years of the International Court of Justice: Essays in Honour of Sir Robert Jennings, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1996, pp.181–192.

V. Gowlland-Debbas, “Commentary on Art.7, UN Charter”, in A. Zimmermann/C. Tomuschat/K. Oellers-Frahm (eds.), Commentary on the Statute of the International Court of Justice, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2006, pp. 79-105.

V. Gowlland-Debbas, “Commentary on Art.1, ICJ Statute”, in A. Zimmermann/C. Tomuschat/K. Oellers-Frahm (eds.), Commentary on the Statute of the International Court of Justice, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2006, pp. 195-204.

V. Gowlland-Debbas, “Human Rights and Humanitarian Law: Are there some Individuals Bereft of all Legal Protection? The Relevance of Paragraph 25 of the ICJ’s Advisory Opinion on Nuclear Weapons”, in Mapping New Boundaries, Proceedings of the American Society of International Law, 98th Annual Meeting, Washington D.C., 2004, pp. 358-363.

V. Gowlland-Debbas, “Judicial Insights into the Fundamental Values and Interests of the International Community“, in A.S. Muller/D.Raic/J.M. Thuranszky (eds.), The International Court of Justice: Its Future Role After 50 Years, The Hague/Boston/London, Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 1997, pp. 327-366.

V. Gowlland-Debbas, “Strengthening the Role of the Court as the Principal Judicial Organ of the UN. Commentary”, in C. Peck/R.S. Lee (eds.), Increasing the Effectiveness of the International Court of Justice: Proceedings of the ICJ/UNITAR Colloquium to Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Court, Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, The Hague/Boston/Leiden, 1997, pp. 254-266.

V. Gowlland-Debbas, “The International Court of Justice at 60: Performance and Prospects. Remarks”, Proceedings of the American Society of International Law, 100th Annual Meeting, Washington D.C., 2007.

V. Gowlland-Debbas, “The Relationship between Political and Judicial Organs of International Organisations: The Role of the Security Council in the New International Criminal Court”, in L. Boisson de Chazournes/C. Romano/R. Mackenzie (eds.), International Organisations and International Dispute Settlement: Trends and Prospects, Transnational Publishers, New York, 2002, pp. 195-218.

V. Gowlland-Debbas, “The Relationship between the International Court of Justice and the Security Council in the Light of the Lockerbie Case”, American Journal of International Law, vol. 88, 1994, pp. 643-677.

V. Gowlland-Debbas, “The Responsibility of the Political Organs of the UN for Palestine in Light of the ICJ’s Wall Opinion”, in M.G. Kohen (ed.), Promoting Justice, Human Rights and Conflict Resolution through International Law: Liber Amicorum: Lucius Caflisch, Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, Leiden/Boston, 2006, pp. 1095-1119.

V. Gowlland-Debbas, “The Right to Life and Genocide: the Court and an International Public Policy”, in P. Sands/L. Boisson de Chazournes (eds.), International Law, the International Court of Justice and Nuclear Weapons, Cambridge University Press,  Cambridge, 1999, pp. 315-337.

L. Gross, “The International Court of Justice and the United Nations”, Recueil des Cours de l'Academie de Droit International, vol. 120, 1967, pp. 313-440.

M. Lachs, “La Cour internationale de Justice, organe judiciaire principal des Nations Unies”, in Liber Amicorum : Adolf F. Schnitzer: Offert à l’occasion de son 90e anniversaire le 30 juillet 1979 par la Faculté de droit de l’Université de Genève, Librairie de l'Université,  Geneva, 1979, pp. 269–284.

A. Pellet, “Le glaive et la balance. Remarques sur le rôle de la C.I.J. en matière de maintien de la paix et de la sécurité internationales”, in Y. Dinstein/M. Tabory (eds.), International Law at a Time of Perplexity: Essays in Honour of Shabtai Rosenne, Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, Boston/Leiden, 1989, pp. 539–566.

A. Pellet, “Strengthening the Role of the Court as the Principal Judicial Organ of the UN”, in C. Peck/R.S. Lee (eds.), Increasing the Effectiveness of the International Court of Justice: Proceedings of the ICJ/UNITAR Colloquium to Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Court, Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, The Hague/Boston/Leiden, 1997, pp. 234–253.

S.M. Schwebel, “Relations between the International Court of Justice and the United Nations”, in P. Weil et al. (eds.), Le Droit International au Service de la Paix, de la Justice et du Développement : Mélanges Michel Virally, A. Pedoné, Paris, 1991, pp. 431–443.