International Court of Justice

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Chambers and Committees

Chambers

The Court generally discharges its duties as a full Court (a quorum of nine judges, excluding judges ad hoc, being sufficient). But it may also form permanent or temporary chambers.

The Court has three types of chamber:

  • the Chamber of Summary Procedure, comprising five judges, including the President and Vice-President, and two substitutes, which the Court is required by Article 29 of the Statute to form annually with a view to the speedy despatch of business;
  • any chamber, comprising at least three judges, that the Court may form pursuant to Article 26, paragraph 1, of the Statute to deal with certain categories of cases, such as labour or communications;
  • any chamber that the Court may form pursuant to Article 26, paragraph 2, of the Statute to deal with a particular case, after formally consulting the parties regarding the number of its members - and informally regarding their name - who will then sit in all phases of the case until its final conclusion, even if in the meantime they cease to be Members of the Court.

With respect to the formation of a Chamber pursuant to Article 26, paragraph 1, of the Statute, it should be noted that, in 1993, the Court created a Chamber for Environmental Matters, which was periodically reconstituted until 2006. In the Chamber's 13 years of existence, however, no State ever requested that a case be dealt with by it. The Court consequently decided in 2006 not to hold elections for a Bench for the said Chamber.

The provisions of the Rules concerning chambers of the Court are likely to be of interest to States that are required to submit a dispute to the Court or have special reasons for doing so but prefer, for reasons of urgency or other reasons, to deal with a smaller body than the full Court.

Despite the advantages that chambers can offer in certain cases, under the terms of the Statute their use remains exceptional. Their formation requires the consent of the parties. While, to date, no case has been heard by either of the first two types of chamber, by contrast there have been six cases dealt with by ad hoc chambers.

Chamber of Summary Procedure

The current composition of this Chamber which, at the request of the parties, may hear and determine cases by summary procedure is as follows:

Members:
President
Peter Tomka
Vice-President
Bernardo Sepúlveda-Amor
Judges
Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf
Xue Hanqin
Joan E. Donoghue
Substitute members:
Judges
Kenneth Keith
Giorgio Gaja

Chambers under Article 26, paragraph 2 (ad hoc chambers)

No such chamber is currently active.

The first ad hoc chamber was formed in 1982 in the case concerning the Delimitation of the Maritime Boundary in the Gulf of Maine Area between Canada and the United States, and the second in 1985 in the case concerning the Frontier Dispute between Burkina Faso and the Republic of Mali. The third was set up in March 1987 in the case concerning Elettronica Sicula S.p.A. (ELSI) between the United States of America and Italy and the fourth was formed in May 1987 in the case concerning the Land, Island and Maritime Frontier Dispute between El Salvador and Honduras. The year 2002 saw the formation of the fifth, to deal with the Frontier Dispute (Benin/Niger) case, and the sixth, to hear the Application for Revision of the Judgment of 11 September 1992 in the Case concerning the Land, Island and Maritime Frontier Dispute (El Salvador/Honduras: Nicaragua intervening) (El Salvador v. Honduras).

Every Chamber has comprised five members. The Chamber which sat in the Gulf of Maine case comprised four Members of the Court (one of them possessing the nationality of one of the parties) and one judge ad hoc chosen by the other party. The Chamber formed in the Frontier Dispute (Burkina Faso/Republic of Mali) case comprised three Members of the Court and two judges ad hoc chosen by the parties. The Chamber formed in the Elettronica Sicula S.p.A. (ELSI) case comprised five Members of the Court (two of them each possessing the nationality of one of the parties). The Chamber which sat in the case concerning the Land, Island and Maritime Frontier Dispute comprised three Members of the Court and two judges ad hoc chosen by the parties, and the two Chambers formed in 2002 were similarly composed.

Committees

Budgetary and Administrative Committee

Decisions needing to be taken by the Court on administrative matters are prepared by a Budgetary and Administrative Committee composed of the President (chair), the Vice-President and four to five judges elected triennially.

The present composition of the Committee is as follows:

President
Peter Tomka
Vice-President
Bernardo Sepúlveda-Amor
Judges
Ronny Abraham
Mohamed Bennouna
Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf
Christopher Greenwood
Xue Hanqin

Rules Committee

In 1979, the Court established a standing Rules Committee. This committee advises the Court on procedural issues and working methods.

The present composition of the Committee is as follows:

Judges
Ronny Abraham
Kenneth Keith
Leonid Skotnikov
Antônio A. Cançado Trindade
Joan E. Donoghue
Giorgio Gaja

Library Committee

Established in 1970, the Library Committee oversees the programme of acquisitions for the library of the Court and supervises the ongoing modernization of its services.

The present composition of the Committee is as follows:

Judges
Mohamed Bennouna
Antônio A. Cançado Trindade
Giorgio Gaja
Dalveer Bhandari