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UN Documentation: International Court of Justice

ICJ Judgments, Orders, Advisory Opinions

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has two main functions:

  • To settle, in accordance with international law, legal disputes submitted by States,
    • Called contentious cases;
    • Can issue court orders and judgments;
    • Individual judges or groups of judges may write separate or dissenting opinions;
    • There may be both written and oral proceedings
  • To give advisory opinions on legal questions referred to it by authorized UN organs and specialized agencies,
    • Called advisory proceedings;
    • Can issue court orders and advisory opinions;
    • Individual judges or groups of judges can also write separate or dissenting opinions;
    • There may be written and oral statements.

In print, the case materials are issued as separate documents, then reissued in two series:

  • Reports of Judgments, Advisory Opinions and Orders
    • Cited as ICJ Reports, with the year;
    • Compiled all the court-produced documents in chronological order for a given year;
    • Published in English and French on opposite pages;
    • Indexed in English and French.
  • Pleadings, Oral Arguments, Documents
    • Cited as ICJ Pleadings, with the case name and volume;
    • Compiled party-produced documents in chronological order for a given case;
    • Issued in multiple volumes per case;
    • Documents in English or French.

On the ICJ website, the material has been reorganized by case.

  • For each contentious case, there is a page for some or all of the following:
    • Application;
    • Incidental proceedings;
    • Written proceedings;
    • Oral proceedings;
    • Orders;
    • Judgments;
    • Summaries of judgments and orders;
    • Press Releases.
  • For each advisory proceeding, there is a page for some or all of the following:
    • Request for advisory opinion;
    • Written statements;
    • Oral statements;
    • Orders;
    • Advisory opinions;
    • Summaries of advisory opinions and orders;
    • Press releases;
    • Correspondence.
  • The subject indexes included in the ICJ Reports are not found on the website.

For cases completed before the website was created, the material has been extracted from the ICJ Reports and the ICJ Pleadings. 

  • Though both the ICJ Reports and the ICJ Pleadings were digitized, it can sometimes be challenging to identify which case contains the information needed, using only a citation. If the case is not mentioned in the citing text, a search of secondary sources may provide clues. Alternatively, the print editions may be consulted.
  • WorldLII is a non-UN website that provides searchable access to ICJ Decisions and Transcripts by year.

The Summaries of judgments, advisory opinions and orders of the ICJ are available in all six official UN languages;