International Court of Justice Discussion

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Under the current system the International Court of Justice can assert jurisdiction over states only when the states who are parties to the dispute specifically accept jurisdiction. This acceptance may be ad hoc (on a case by case basis) or through the use of the compulsory jurisdiction clause. This is because states are considered sovereign and therefore must give consent before international law binds them.

While this may have worked in the early stages, this lack of automatic jurisdiction leads to a collapse of international law when states (usually large and powerful states) refuse to submit their disputes to the ICJ. Furthermore the ICJ decisions need to be enforced by the Security Council and there are times when the Security Council has been unable to do so because of the veto power residing in the five permanent members.

Is it time we thought about changing the rules so that jurisdiction is automatic and that the Security Council veto cannot be used to thwart the enforcement of an ICJ decision? Explain your reasoning.


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