The impetus to create a world court for the international community developed as a result of the atmosphere engendered by the Hague Conferences of 1897 and 1907. The establishment of the Permanent Court of Arbitration, although neither permanent nor, in fact, a court, marked international law an important step forward in the consolidation of an international legal system. However, no lasting concrete steps were taken until after the conclusion of the First World War. The Covenant of the League of Nations called for the formulation of proposals for the creation of a world court and in 1920 the Permanent Court of International Justice (PCIJ) was created. It stimulated efforts to develop international arbitral mechanisms. Together with arbitration, the Permanent Court was intended to provide a reasonably comprehensive system serving the international community. It was intended as a way to prevent outbreaks of violence by enabling easily accessible methods of dispute settlement in the context of a legal and organisational framework to be made available.
The PCIJ was superseded after the Second World War by the International Court of Justice (ICJ), described in article 92 of the Charter as the ‘principal judicial organ’ of the United Nations. In essence, it is a continuation of the Permanent Court, with virtually the same statute and jurisdiction, and with a continuing line of cases, no distinction being made between those decided by the PCIJ and those by the ICJ.
THE ORGANISATION OF THE COURT
The ICJ is composed of fifteen members:
elected regardless of their nationality, from among persons of high moral character, who possess the qualifications required in their respective countries for appointment to the highest judicial offices, or are jurisconsults of recognised competence in international law.
The procedure for the appointment of judges is interesting in that it combines both legal and political elements, while seeking to exclude as far as possible the influence of national states over them. The system established by the Root–Phillimore plan in 1920 is in essence followed. This plan played a large part in the actual creation of the PCIJ and succeeded in allaying many suspicions regarding the composition of the proposed Court.