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Legal research guide: Public International Law: Case law

peace palace

The Peace Palace in The Hague (Netherlands), seat of the International Court of Justice. Photograph: PE Fotostudio - Courtesy of the ICJ. All rights reserved.

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations (UN). It was established in June 1945 by the Charter of the United Nations and began work in April 1946.

The Court's role is to settle, in accordance with international law, legal disputes submitted to it by States (Contentious cases ) and to give advisory opinions (Advisory proceedings) on legal questions referred to it by duly authorised United Nations organs and specialised agencies.

The Court is composed of 15 judges, who are elected for terms of office of nine years by the United Nations General Assembly and the Security Council.

Note: Decisions of the Court are only legally binding on the parties to the dispute and have no precedential value in a formal sense.

Finding reports of judgments, advisory opinions and orders

The official reporter is the International Court of Justice, reports of judgments, advisory opinions and orders. Find this in the Beasley Law Library Journal Collection on Level 3 at P 346.4 or online via Hein Online. The full text of judgments, summaries of judgments, individual opinions of judges, orders and oral proceedings are available for most cases.

While the full text of judgments are available, we suggest that you use the Oxford Reports on International Law to which provides the full text and additional citator information such as links to journal articles and cases that discuss each case. Or view the International Law Reports  available from Welshpool store or the Beasley Law Library Journal Collection on Level 3 at P 346.4.

The Oxford Reports on International Law has a case citator (links to journal articles and decisions that mention the judgment)


Search OneSearch for books on ICJ decisions

Banner image sources: Image 1, 2, 4, & 5 licensed under CC0 Public Domain license. Image , Image 3 licensed under a CC BY-SA 2.0 license.


 Except for logos or where otherwise indicated, content in this guide is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International Licence.