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Know the difference between ICJ & ICC

In a major difference between ICJ and ICC, the International Criminal Court has around 105 members. Some countries, like the US, have never joined the ICC. The International Court of Justice has as its members all the members of the United Nations, which means around 193 countries.

New Delhi, April 9: How many of you get confused between The International Criminal Court (ICC and not the cricket board) and the International Court of Justice (ICJ). Well, we will make it easy for you to know the difference between ICJ and ICC.

Difference between ICJ and ICC, important facts

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Image: Utkal Today

Before we begin to explain the difference between ICJ and ICC, here’s a simple explanation: ICC and ICJ are two big-shot names in the sphere of International Law.

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is the primary judicial branch of the United Nations. Situated in the Peace Palace in The Hague, Netherlands, the court settles legal disputes submitted to it by states and provides advisory opinions on legal questions submitted to it by duly authorized international branches, agencies, and the UN General Assembly.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) is an intergovernmental organization and international tribunal that has its headquarters in The Hague in the Netherlands. The ICC has the jurisdiction to prosecute individuals for the international crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes.

The ICC is intended to complement existing national judicial systems and it may therefore only exercise its jurisdiction when certain conditions are met, such as when national courts are unwilling or unable to prosecute criminals or when the United Nations Security Council or individual states refer investigations to the Court.

So a pertinent question can lurk in the minds of our readers as to what is the difference between the two bodies of Justice? Let us zoom into the differences between ICC and ICJ.

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Image: Utkal Today

Difference between ICJ and ICC

Listed below are key differences between ICJ and ICC.

Relationship with the United Nations

The International Criminal Court is an independent organisation and is not a part of the United Nations. However, they do work alongside each other and the United Nations Security Council can refer to situations involving international crimes to the ICC.

The International Court of Justice is an integral part of the United Nations and acts as its primary judicial branch. In fact, the United Nations Security Council enforces the rulings and judgements passed by this court.

Number of members and composition

The International Criminal Court has around 105 members. Some countries, like the United States, have never joined the ICC due to concerns regarding ceding their sovereignty to an international body. It is interesting to note that our country is also not a part of the ICC. The International Criminal Court is made up of 18 judges who make decisions on international criminal matters, where each judge serves a nine-year term.

The International Court of Justice has as its members all the members of the United Nations, which means around 193 countries. So, the ICJ is a bigger organization than the ICC.  The International Court of Justice constitutes 15 judges where each of them, like those in the ICC, also serve a nine-year term. They are elected by the UN General Assembly and the UN Security Council, with 5 judges being elected every 3 years to ensure continuity within the court. There is an informal understanding that the seats for the judges shall be distributed according to geographic regions, hence there are 5 seats for Western countries, 3 for African states, 2 for Eastern European states, 3 for Asian states and 2 for Latin American and Caribbean states.

Derivation of authority

Both these organisations derive the authority to conduct their affairs and perform their functions by certain international treaties or statutes that are signed and ratified by nations of the world. The International Criminal Court derives its authority from the Rome Statute, which was ratified and became executable in 2002. There are certain countries, like the United States of America, which have ratified this treaty but have not become a party to the ICC over concerns regarding the succession of their sovereignty and power to the International Criminal Court.

On the other hand, the International Court of Justice derives its authority from the Charter of the United Nations, which was signed by all the members of the UN in 1945. Countries that are not members of the United Nations can also become parties to the ICJ, by ratifying the Statute of the International Court of Justice, which currently has 50 signatories.

Matters under jurisdiction

As the name suggests, the International Criminal Court deals with criminal matters. International Criminal Court talks in detail about the types of crimes it adjudicates, which are as follows:

Crime of genocide, which means the specific intent to destroy wholly or partly a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, either by killing its members or by other means.

Also read: International Criminal Court: Key features, composition and functions

Crimes against humanity, which are serious violations involving large-scale attacks against civilian populations. The Rome Statute mentioned 15 crimes against humanity, such as murder, rape, enslavement, etc.

War crimes, which are grave breaches of the Geneva conventions in the context of armed conflict between countries. These crimes include the use of child soldiers, killing or torturing prisoners of war, etc.

Crime of aggression, which is the use of armed force by one State against the sovereignty, integrity or independence of another. This was added to the scope of work of the ICC in July 2018.

The ICC is “the court of last resort”. It exercises its powers when a state’s legal system collapses, or when a government is the perpetrator of heinous international crimes.

On the other hand, the International Court of Justice is a civil court. It settles legal disputes between the member-states and gives advisory opinions on international legal issues referred to it by these member states in the form of the United Nations General Assembly or other authorized international agencies. The matters it generally deals with include sovereignty and boundaries, treaty violations, maritime disputes, trade disputes, etc. It is also called the World Court.

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Image: Britannica
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Image: UN

Jurisdiction & funding

While the territorial jurisdiction of the ICC is restricted to its member states,  the territorial jurisdiction of the ICJ is wider, as it can deal with matters relating to any of the member states of the United Nations, which essentially means almost all the countries in the world.

In case of funding, the International Criminal Court, being an independent body, mainly functions on contributions made by state parties to the Rome Statute and voluntary contributions from the United Nations, governments, individual corporations, etc. Meanwhile, the International Court of Justice, being a part of the UN, is funded by the same.

The International Criminal Court and the International Court of Justice are fairly different in several respects, like their scope of work, relationship with the United Nations, funding, jurisdiction, etc. However, there is one thing which makes them alike i.e. their fundamental motive – to facilitate international peace and cooperation and to ensure that the world works as per the law.

By Nilofar Naaz

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