Litigation at the International Court of Justice

Practice and Procedure


Litigation at the International Court of Justice provides a systematic guide to questions of procedure arising when States come before the International Court of Justice to take part in contentious litigation. Quintana's approach is primarily empirical and emphasis is put on examples derived from actual practice. This book is mainly intended to help practitioners and advisors to governments engaged in actual cases and deliberately avoids theoretical discussions, favoring a pragmatic stance that is focused not so much on what authors have to say on any given topic concerning procedure, but rather on presenting, directly “from the Court’s mouth,” as it were, what ICJ judges actually have done and said over the last ninety years concerning such questions.

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Juan José Quintana is an international law specialist with 30 years of experience in international affairs. A member of the Colombian foreign service since 1984, he is currently the Ambassador of Colombia to the Kingdom of The Netherlands.

A note on the quotation of decisions by the ICJ
List of abbreviations

Foreword by Eduardo Valencia-Ospina


1. Access
a) Capacity to be a party
b) Access and jurisdiction
c) The question of standing
d) States parties to cases
e) Parties to cases: Legal and practical implications

2. Jurisdiction
a) The principle of consent
b) Legal disputes
c) Exhaustion of diplomatic negotiations
d) Jurisdiction and propriety
e) The title of jurisdiction
f) Jurisdiction perfected by means of acts of procedure (forum prorogatum)
g) Incidental and interlocutory jurisdiction


3. Governing instruments
a) Sources of the Procedural Law of the ICJ
b) Governing provisions and implementing regulations
c) The Statute
d) The Rules of Court
e) The Practice Directions
f) Procedural decisions

4. Procedure: General aspects
a) Components of procedure: Written stage and oral stage
b) Phases of a case and interlocutory proceedings
c) The Bench for a case: Changes in the composition of the Court
d) Pre-adjudicative steps by the parties

5. Institution of proceedings
a) The concept of seisin
b) Methods for instituting proceedings
c) Instituting proceedings by way of an Application
d) Instituting proceedings by way of a Special Agreement
e) Instituting incidental and derivative proceedings
f) Pre-adjudicative steps by the Court

Part III

6. Written proceedings stage: The pleadings
a) Number and order of pleadings
b) Contents of the pleadings
c) Annexes
d) Questions of language, printing and format
e) Closure of the written proceedings stage
f) “New documents”
g) Access to the pleadings

7. Oral proceedings stage: The hearings
a) The hearings
b) The final submissions
c) Questions for the parties
d) Closing (and reopening) of the oral stage

8. Evidence
a) The burden of proof
b) The standard of proof
c) Production and handling of evidence
d) Types of evidence

Part IV

9. Modes of termination
a) Summary dismissal
b) Discontinuance

10. The Decision
a) The reading of the decision
b) Formal features and contents of the decision
c) The reasoning section: Aspects of methodology
d) Correction of errors in a decision
e) Individual opinions
f) Legal effects of the decision
g) Compliance and enforcement

Part V

11. Provisional Measures
a) Prospects of jurisdiction on the merits
b) The proper object of provisional measures
c) Conditions for the indication of provisional measures
d) Modalities of measures
e) Procedure
f) Legal effects of provisional measures
g) Compliance

12. Challenges to jurisdiction
a) The principle
b) Ex officio consideration of jurisdictional matters
c) Methods for challenging the Court’s jurisdiction
d) Jurisdictional questions and provisional measures
e) Characterizing preliminary objections
f) Handling of objections by the Court
g) Procedure

13. Counter-claims
a) Admissibility
b) Procedure

14. Intervention under Article 62 of the Statute
a) Discretional intervention
b) Admissibility
c) Procedure
d) Intervention as a party?
e) Legal effects of the intervention
f) Cases of non-intervention: The Monetary Gold doctrine

15. Intervention under Article 63 of the Statute
a) Admissibility
b) Procedure
c) Legal effects of the intervention

Part VI

16. Interpretation of judgments
a) Article 60 of the Statute
b) Jurisdiction
c) Admissibility
d) Interpretation of judgments and provisional measures
e) Procedure

17. Revision of judgments
a) Admissibility
b) Procedure

Part VII

18. Other litigation devises: Joinder, lack of appearance, appeals and remedies
(i) Joinder
a) Formal joinder
b) Other forms of common action
(ii) Lack of appearance
a) Jurisdiction
b) Procedure
c) Questions of evidence
d) Extra-procedural documentation
(iii) Appeals (Special reference to the Court)
a) Jurisdiction
b) Procedure
(iv) Remedies
a) Jurisdiction
b) Types of remedies
c) Procedure

19. Litigation before Chambers
a) Special Chambers
b) ad hoc Chambers
c) Chamber of Summary Procedure
d) An assessment of the Chambers system

20. Litigation in advisory proceedings
a) The Question of access
b) Questions of jurisdiction
c) Questions of procedure

List of Boxes
Appendix 1: PCIJ, List of Cases
Appendix 2: ICJ, List of Cases
Practitioners and advisors to governments engaged in actual cases before the ICJ. Legal advisors to foreign ministries, international organizations, law offices, law schools and research institutions on public international law.

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