The Treaty of Versailles, signed June 28, 1919, whose ratifications were deposited at Paris on January 10, 1920, opens with the Covenant of the League of Nations, the Preamble of which reads as follows:
THE: HIGH CONTRACTING PARTIES,In order to promote international coöperation and to achieve international peace and security
by the acceptance of obligations not to resort to war, by the prescription of open, just and honorable relations between nations, by the firm establishment of the understandings of international law as the actual rule of conduct among governments, and by the maintenance of justice and a scrupulous respect for all treaty obligations in the dealings of organized peoples with one another. Agree to this Covenant of the League of Nations.
One way of achieving international peace and security is declared to be "by the firm establishment of the understandings of international law as the actual rule of conduct among governments." To ascertain the "understandings of international law" and to make of them "the actual rule of conduct among governments," Article 14 of the Covenant provides that the Council of the League of Nations shall "formulate and submit to the members of the League for adoption plans for the establishment of a Permanent Court of International Justice." By the same article the court is declared to "be competent to hear and (determine any dispute of an international character which the parties thereto submit to it." In addition, the court also give "an advisory opinion upon any dispute or question referred to it by the Council or by the Assembly."
The court has therefore a double purpose and a two-fold jurisdiction: it is the judicial organ of the League of Nations competent "to hear and determine any dispute of an international character" which states may submit to it; it is also an adviser to the Council and the Assembly in the performance of their respective duties "upon any dispute or question" which either one or the other may refer to it.
To formulate plans for the establishment of this Permanent Court of International Justice, the Council, on February 13, 1920, invited the following jurists: