• World
  • Mar 30

ICJ orders Israel to take action to address famine in Gaza

• The International Court of Justice (ICJ) ordered Israel to take measures to improve the humanitarian situation in Gaza, including opening more land crossings to allow food, water, fuel and other supplies into the war-ravaged enclave and halt spreading famine.

• The ICJ issued two new so-called provisional measures in a case brought by South Africa accusing Israel of acts of genocide in its military campaign launched after the October 7 attacks by Hamas. 

• Israel denies it is committing genocide. It says its military campaign is self defence and aimed at Hamas, not the Palestinian people.

• The latest order came after South Africa sought more provisional measures, including a ceasefire, citing starvation in Gaza. Israel urged the court not to issue new orders.

• The court told Israel to take measures without delay to ensure the unhindered provision of basic services and humanitarian assistance, including food, water, fuel and medical supplies.

• It also ordered Israel to immediately ensure that its military does not take action that could that could harm Palestinians’ rights under the Genocide Convention, including by preventing the delivery of humanitarian assistance.

• The court told Israel to report back in a month on its implementation of the orders.

The International Court of Justice

• The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations.

• The ICJ settles legal disputes between States and gives advisory opinions on legal questions that have been referred to it by other authorised UN organs.

• It is informally known as the “World Court”.

• It was established by the United Nations Charter in June 1945.

• The first members of the ICJ were elected on February 6, 1946, at the first session of the UN General Assembly. The Court held its inaugural sitting at the iconic Peace Palace in The Hague, on  April 18, 1946.

• The Court is composed of 15 judges elected for a nine-year term by the General Assembly and the Security Council of the United Nations. 

• The seat of the Court is at the Peace Palace in The Hague (Netherlands).

• Of the six principal organs of the United Nations, it is the only one not located in New York, USA. 

The Court has a twofold role:

1) To settle, in accordance with international law, through judgments which have binding force and are without appeal for the parties concerned, legal disputes submitted to it by States.

2) To give advisory opinions on legal questions referred to it by duly authorised United Nations organs and agencies of the system.

• The jurisdiction of the Court comprises all cases which the parties refer to it and all matters specially provided for in the Charter of the United Nations or in treaties and conventions in force.

• The Court can only hear a dispute when requested to do so by one or more States. It cannot deal with a dispute on its own initiative. Neither is it permitted, under its Statute, to investigate and rule on acts of sovereign States as it chooses.

• States which are not members of the United Nations may become parties to the Statute of the Court on conditions to be determined in each case by the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council.

How is ICJ different from ICC?

•  The International Criminal Court (ICC) is an independent judicial body with jurisdiction over persons charged with genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

• The ICC is not part of the UN.

• Situated in The Hague, Netherlands, the ICC is governed by the Rome Statute adopted by the UN in 1998. It entered into force in 2002 upon ratification by 60 States. 

• The ICC is established to investigate, prosecute and try individuals accused of committing the most serious crimes of concern to the international community. 

• International Court of Justice (ICJ) is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations for the settlement of disputes between States.

• The ICJ has no jurisdiction to try individuals accused of war crimes or crimes against humanity.

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