International Court of Justice set January 11 for the first session to consider South Africa’s request to try Israel on charges of committing genocide in its war on Gaza

South Africa announced that the International Court of Justice has set January 11 to hold the first session to consider a request to try Israel on charges of committing genocide in its war on Gaza.

South African Ministry of International Relations spokesman, Clayson Monella, said in a blog post on the X platform that the session will begin on this date at the court’s headquarters in The Hague, Netherlands, and will continue the next day.  The spokesman indicated that his country is continuing its preparations in this regard.

This comes days after South Africa submitted a request to the International Court of Justice to file a case against Israel on charges of committing genocide against Palestinians in Gaza.

 South Africa asked the court last week to issue an urgent order declaring that Israel is violating its obligations in the 1948 Genocide Convention.

An Israeli government spokesman responded to the request saying that Israel will appear before the International Court of Justice to refute South Africa’s accusations.The spokesman described the accusation of committing genocide as ridiculous, and continued, "We assure the leaders of South Africa that history will judge you without mercy."

Yesterday, the Bolivian Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced its support for the lawsuit filed by South Africa before the International Court of Justice against Israel for genocide crimes in the Gaza Strip.

Bolivia praised the step taken by South Africa in this regard in accordance with its commitment to the Genocide Convention, considering it a historic step in defending the rights of the Palestinian people and the Palestinian cause, stressing the need to support this initiative by the international community.

The International Court of Justice...what is it and what is it for?

An international judicial body established under the Charter of the United Nations, also called the World Court. Its role is to settle international disputes presented to it by States, within the framework of known as “controversial issues” in accordance with international law, while expressing an advisory opinion on legal matters that arise, referred to it by United Nations bodies and authorized international agencies.

 It also decides disputes between countries on the basis of the voluntary participation of the states concerned, and if a state agrees to be a party before the court, it is obliged to comply with its decisions.

 Origin and establishment

The establishment of the International Court of Justice - the main judicial body of the United Nations - in its current form came after several previous attempts to create an international institution based on settling international disputes peacefully.

 International relations have known many conflicts throughout the ages, which necessitated thinking about establishing mechanisms that would settle controversial issues between countries. This crystallized in the 19th century when the first attempt was made to establish the so-called Permanent Court of Arbitration, during the First Hague Peace Conference in 1899.

 Eight years later, the founding treaty of this court was revised, during the Second Hague Peace Conference in 1907, and it is the formula according to which the Permanent Court of Arbitration was established.

 This court was not a judicial body in the sense of a permanent institution consisting of permanent judges with fixed positions, but rather it was a mechanism to assist in the formation of arbitration bodies, and the court did not attain its full status as a judicial body until after the formation of the League of Nations in 1919, which was replaced by the United Nations, and it was This is a result of the great devastation and losses caused by the First World War.

 The Permanent Court of Arbitration held its first official session in 1922, but the outbreak of World War II had serious consequences on the conduct of its work, which led to its almost complete suspension.

 After the end of World War II, the statute of the Permanent Court of Arbitration was revised and the International Court of Justice was established as its successor, including the powers of that body.

 The International Court of Justice was established on June 26, 1945 under the Charter of the United Nations, and its first opening session was in April 1946.

 Since then, it has exercised its jurisdiction with regard to resolving disputes between states, and has been considered a guardian of international law, operating according to a basic system very similar to the system of its predecessor (the Permanent Court of Arbitration), which is considered an integral part of the United Nations Charter.

The Location and permanent seat of the court

The headquarters of the International Court of Justice is located in the Peace Palace in The Hague, in the south of the Netherlands, on the coast of the North Sea, making it the only body among the six main organs of the United Nations that is headquartered outside New York City.

Court's Mission:

The International Court of Justice aims to resolve international disputes, as it works to resolve disputes between countries in accordance with international law and international justice, in the hope of maintaining international peace and security. It issues legal decisions that are binding on member states, which they must comply with. It also works to issue legal directives regarding the interpretation and application of international agreements.


The Court seeks to promote and protect human rights in its decisions and rulings, which contributes to achieving justice and fairness, as these goals are considered essential aspects of the Court’s work and appreciate its role in promoting peaceful international relations, and understanding and applying international law.


It also seeks to support and implement the principles of justice, accountability and defense of human rights at the global level, as it works to strengthen the rule of law by ensuring its consistent and fair application within and between countries, and also breaks with the issue of impunity by holding accountable parties responsible for serious violations of international law, such as War crimes, genocide, crimes against humanity, etc. In addition, the International Court of Justice contributes significantly to preventing and resolving conflicts, by employing legal mechanisms and peaceful means.

Over the course of 6 decades, the Court has played an important role in developing and implementing international human rights law and standards through its important roles and activities at the level of investigation committees and trial monitoring, fact-finding missions, public convictions, and diplomatic missions, making it a key player in achieving security and justice worldwide.

Roles of the International Court of Justice

The court's first task is to decide legal disputes between states. These litigation procedures constitute 80% of the court's activity, as well as issues related to international humanitarian law, international environmental law, the use of force, and the international responsibility of states.

 States resort to the court when they disagree on the demarcation of borders among themselves, or in cases of dispute over islands or sea areas, and when states claim against another that they have violated a treaty or rule of international law, and if the United Nations or one of its agencies needs a legal opinion on thorny issues. The Court cannot consider a case except with the consent of the states concerned with the case.

 In addition, the International Court of Justice can consider any international legal issue, and all member states of the United Nations can file a lawsuit before it, and other non-member states also have the right to resort to the court according to certain conditions, and therefore the court’s jurisdiction includes all Countries of the world. A large number of countries have appeared before the Court in lawsuits since 1946.

 The second task is to answer legal questions presented to it by some specialized bodies and agencies of the United Nations, and in accordance with these procedures, advisory opinions are issued.

 Since 1946, the Court has issued a set of opinions on a number of issues that have received wide media coverage on a number of occasions, and the majority of these opinions were requested by the United Nations General Assembly.

The legal and moral authority of the Court gives important weight to its advisory opinions. Moreover, the consideration of the opinions of the International Court of Justice by states and international organizations contributes significantly to the development of international law.

 The court contributed to resolving a number of crises, settling relations between countries, and activating negotiation paths, some of which had been frozen for long periods, by finding legal solutions to disputes, or by referring to the law related to a specific issue.

 As the principal judicial organ of the United Nations, the Court is a key part of the international mechanism for promoting peace, and in this capacity the International Court of Justice regularly receives visits from various countries and high-level figures.

Litigation procedures

When the court takes over a case, the proceedings take place in two stages. First, states present arguments, evidence, and reports in writing. Then representatives and lawyers present oral arguments during the sessions, after which the court withdraws to begin deliberations, which are mostly confidential, after which decisions are taken by a majority of the judges present.

 The court’s deliberations last between 4 and 6 months, and each decision is issued in the two official languages of the court, English and French, and is printed in more than one official language, and delivered to all concerned countries. The rulings are read in a public session, as the rulings conclude with an “operative paragraph” in which the court presents its decision regarding With all the points of disagreement about it.

 All rulings issued by the Court are final and not subject to appeal. It should be noted that the concerned states appearing before the Court automatically undertake to respect its binding decisions.

In practice, all rulings issued by the court are implemented, and if one of the states refuses to implement them, the opposing state can resort to the United Nations Security Council, as the latter may, in accordance with Article 94 of the United Nations Charter, issue recommendations or approve measures to implement the decision, but given the weight Legal, moral and diplomatic aspects of the court, it is very rare for matters to reach this stage.

Court's Structure

The International Court of Justice consists of 15 judges nominated by their countries, then elected by the General Assembly and the Security Council of the United Nations for a term of 9 years. Elections are held every 3 years for a third of the seats, as the term of 5 judges expires during the first three years of the term. And 5 others at the end of the six years of the term, with the possibility of being re-elected, and each judge must belong to a different country, and they do not necessarily represent their countries, but rather they are independent judges, who take the oath before starting their duties.


The composition of the court reflects a specific geographical balance, as 3 seats are occupied by African judges, while 2 seats are allocated to judges from Latin America and the Caribbean, 3 seats are occupied by Asian judges, 5 seats are allocated to Western judges, and 2 seats are allocated to two judges from the Eastern European region. However, in practice the court includes Always a judge from each of the permanent members of the Security Council (the United States, Britain, France, Russia, and China).


If a dispute is brought before the court, and the court does not include a judge who holds the nationality of a state party to a case, that state may appoint a person to act as judge for this very purpose, and these judges have the same rights and duties as the original judges who are members of the court.


During every three years, the court elects a president and a vice president. The president presides over all sessions of the court, manages its work, and monitors its activities and organs.


The Court enjoys administrative independence, and it is the only main body in the United Nations that is not assisted by the Organization’s General Secretariat. The judges are assisted by the Court’s Rapporteur, who is elected by the Court for a term of 7 years, subject to renewal.


The Rapporteur of the Court is the head of its General Secretariat, which is composed of employees from various parts of the world. The Rapporteur carries out judicial, diplomatic, and administrative tasks as well.



Members of the Court shall be elected by the General Assembly and the Security Council from a list of persons nominated by the national groups of their States, in accordance with the following provisions:


In the case of Members of the United Nations not represented on the Permanent Court of Arbitration, candidates shall be nominated by national groups designated for that purpose by their governments under the same conditions as those laid down for members of the Permanent Court of Arbitration under Article 44 of the 1907 Hague Convention for the Peaceful Settlement of International Disputes.


The General Assembly shall determine the conditions under which a State party to the present Statute but which is not a Member of the United Nations may participate in the election of members of the Court.

In order to nominate persons who are in a position to assume the functions of a member of the Court, the Secretary-General of the United Nations shall address, at least 3 months before the date of the election, a written request to the members of the Permanent Court of Arbitration belonging to the States Parties to its Statute and to the members of the national groups designated under paragraph The second of Article Four of the Statute, calling on it to nominate qualified persons to assume the duties of a member of the court.

No group may nominate more than 4 people, and in no case must the number of group candidates exceed twice the number of seats required to be filled.

Before making these nominations, each national group must consult its highest court of justice, its law faculties, its academies and its international national departments devoted to the study of law.

The Secretary-General of the United Nations shall prepare a list in alphabetical order of all persons nominated for membership of the Court, except as provided in Article 12, paragraph 2, of the Basic Law.


The General Assembly and the Security Council work independently from each other to elect members of the Court, and voters must bear in mind the election of those who have the ability to act collectively rather than individually and who have the qualifications required to assume the task.

Candidates who obtain an absolute majority of the votes of the General Assembly and the Security Council are considered elected, as any vote of the Security Council is taken, whether to elect judges or to appoint a member, without any distinction between permanent and non-permanent members of the Security Council.

In the event that more than one citizen of the same country obtains an absolute majority of the votes of the General Assembly and the Security Council, only the eldest of them shall be considered elected. If, after the first session held for the purpose of election, one or more seats remain vacant, a second and third session shall be held, if necessary, to elect the person to occupy it. .

If one or more seats remain vacant after the third session, a joint conference shall be formed consisting of 6 members, 3 of whom shall be appointed from the General Assembly and 3 from the Security Council, at the request of either of them, for the purpose of choosing one name by voting by an absolute majority for each seat not Still vacant. If these members unanimously agree on any person who meets the required conditions, he will be included in the list of nominations referred to in Article 7 of the Statute.

In the event of the resignation of a member of the Court, the resignation shall be addressed to the President of the Court for transmission to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, whereby the position shall become vacant. Vacant positions are filled within one month of their vacancy, by issuing the invitations stipulated in Article 5 of the Statute of the Court, and the Security Council sets the date for the elections, so that the elected member replaces the resigned member, and then assumes the position for the remainder of his predecessor’s term.


No member of the court has the right to exercise any political or administrative function, or engage in any other profession, nor may they act as agents, advisors, or lawyers in any case brought before the court. In addition, no member is permitted to participate in the decision in any case in which he previously participated as an agent, advisor, or lawyer for a party, or as a member of a national or international court, or in an investigation committee, or in any other capacity.

Every member of the Court must, before assuming his duties, give a solemn undertaking in open court that he will exercise his powers fairly and conscientiously.

Members within the Court enjoy diplomatic privileges and immunities, and also benefit from periodic leave, the dates and duration of which are determined by the Court, taking into account the distance between The Hague and the home of each judge.

If a member of the court believes, for a special reason, that he should not participate in deciding a particular case, he must inform the president of that. For his part, if the latter notices that a member of the court should not attend a particular case, he must inform him of that. If the court member disagrees In any such case, the President shall be separated by court decision.


As part of the United Nations, the International Court of Justice receives its funding from several sources, including:

United Nations: The Court is considered part of the United Nations, and therefore receives part of its funding from the United Nations budget. Article 33 of the Court’s statute stipulates that “the United Nations shall bear the expenses of the Court in the manner decided by the General Assembly.”

Member States' contributions: Member States are committed to paying annual contributions to support the Court's activities and budget.

Donations: The Court accepts donations from States, entities and international groups to finance its activities.

Upfront fees from states: When a state files a case before the court, it must pay an upfront fee, and these fees contribute to the financing of the court.

Most of the court's budget is allocated to cover the costs of its work and activities, such as staff wages and infrastructure costs, and how the court collects its funding depends on international agreements and understandings between member states and the United Nations.


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