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The International Court of Justice and Nongovernmental Organizations

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image of International Community Law Review

The role that the non-governmental organizations can play with respect to the proceedings in front of the International Court of Justice has been always a thorny issue. The, relevantly recent, Practice Direction XII has not substantially ameliorated this situation. Although providing an avenue for the views of civil society to be represented, it can also be argued that from an interpretative point of view it is more restrictive than the Statute of the Court itself, a fact which reinforces the debate on the advantages and pitfalls of an amendment of the Statute of the Court. However, other problems remain; the definition of international organization, whether it includes NGOs as well or not, seems to differ not only from tribunal to tribunal e.g. PCIJ and ICJ but also from case to case. Other possibilities of submitting information to the Court, as for instance as experts, have been rarely put to use. The possible benefits of a greater participation of NGOs in the international judicial process have, nevertheless, up till now not changed the most likely of NGO submissions; they either end up being placed to the Peace Palace Library for consultation purposes or they are more seriously considered but only through the intermediary of a State involved in the proceedings.

Affiliations: 1: Patricia Roberts Harris Research; The George Washington University Law School


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