The International Court of Justice ("ICJ" or "Court") is the successor to both the Permanent Court of Arbitration and the Permanent Court of International Justice. Before the first court was established in 1899, only ad hoc tribunals existed. This was due to a basic fact of international law that international tribunals possessed jurisdiction only if the parties to the case conferred it on the tribunal either for that case or previously by an international agreement. Therefore, the great problem of international law today is how to confer as much jurisdiction on the international court as possible. Now that the use of force is generally prohibited, the only way one can solve a dispute is by a decision of some impartial international body. Despite the doubts of some people, the International Court of Justice is the closest thing we have to such an impartial international body.
Louis B. Sohn,
American Acceptance of the Jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice: Experiences and Prospects
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