Academic journal article The George Washington Journal of International Law and Economics

Amplifying the World Court's Jurisdiction through Counter-Claims and Third-Party Intervention

Academic journal article The George Washington Journal of International Law and Economics

Amplifying the World Court's Jurisdiction through Counter-Claims and Third-Party Intervention

Article excerpt

I. INTRODUCTION

It is an indication of the optimism, enthusiasm, and industry of Louis Sohn that his classic treatise on reforming the United Nations, World Peace Through World Law (co-authored with Grenville Clark),1 did not propose simply tinkering with the statute or rules of the International Court of Justice (I.C.J. or the Court), but rather envisioned radical changes in the structure of the U.N. judicial system. His proposals included: empowering the General Assembly to refer disputes that endanger international peace to the International Court of Justice regardless of the consent of the parties;2 empowering the Court to decide all questions relating to the interpretation of the U.N. Charter, without limiting such interpretation to advisory opinions sought by competent U.N. agencies or to disputes over which it otherwise had jurisdiction;3 empowering the I.C.J. to decide the constitutionality of laws enacted by competent U.N. organs;4 creating an entirely new dispute settlement structure, known as the World Equity Tribunal, to handle disputes primarily non-legal in nature (its decisions would be advisory unless the parties to the dispute otherwise agreed or the General Assembly voted by super-majority to enforce the decision);5 the creation of a World Conciliation Board devoted to mediation and conciliation of disputes involving states or the United Nations;6 and the creation of regional U.N. courts to try individuals or private organizations accused by a U.N. Attorney-General of violating the Charter or laws enacted under it.7

These reforms envisaged by Professors Clark and Sohn never transpired, although some aspects of their proposals may be seen in the development of dispute resolution systems unrelated to the U.N. system. Thus, important new global dispute resolution devices have emerged, such as the Tribunal for the Law of the Sea" (in which Professor Sohn had a significant hand) and the improved procedures for binding dispute resolution at the World Trade Organization.9 Similarly, important regional dispute systems are functioning in Europe and the Americas.10 The global community has even made significant advances in pursuing the international prosecution of individuals for violations of international humanitarian law through the creation of ad hoc international criminal tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, and the adoption of a statute for an International Criminal Court.11

Perhaps the most interesting forms of emergent dispute resolution systems are not just those outside the U.N. system, but those that do not involve a court or arbitration at all, such as the compliance procedures created in the context of the Montreal Protocol on the Depletion of Ozone Substances.12 Indeed, some scholars, believing that the international legal community is focusing excessively on the need to build new or improve old binding dispute resolution mechanisms, instead favor focusing on techniques for improving states' compliance through norm clarification, information-sharing, and capacity-building.13

Where, then, does this leave the I.CJ.? If not a global judicial institution supervising a pyramid of judicial institutions, applying global laws and assisted by a global police force, then how might its more limited role be enhanced? In the years after the initial 1958 publication of World Peace Through World Law, Professor Sohn argued for less ambitious changes in the structure of the I.CJ. He suggested that we "elevate our sights a little lower" by having states pursue more incremental or step-by-step approaches to expanding the I.C.J.'s jurisdiction, without necessarily amending the Charter, the I.C.J. Statute, or the I.C.J. Rules of Procedure.14 In particular, during the period when the United States accepted the compulsory jurisdiction of the I.C.J., Professor Sohn analyzed ways in which that acceptance might be improved15 and, in the aftermath of the U.S. withdrawal from the I.C. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.