Publication Date



The International Court of Justice (ICJ, also known as the
World Court) is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations
(UN). I have served as a member of the Court for the past two
years. During that time, I have had the opportunity to speak
about the Court and about international law to a variety of
audiences throughout the United States. It is a particular
privilege to deliver the Sibley Lecture here at the University of
Georgia School of Law, an institution that is known for its
commitment to the study of international law and international
The ICJ has its roots in the notion that adjudication in a world
court can serve as an alternative to war. In the decades since the
Court was established, there have been enormous changes in
international law and institutions. In particular, there are now
many other international courts and tribunals,1 and many other
institutions contribute to the peaceful resolution of disputes. 2
In view of these developments, what is the role of the World
Court? The ICJ is charged with a powerful combination of
functions: the resolution of particular disputes between states; the
issuance of advisory opinions requested by the United Nations
Security Council and General Assembly; and the development of
international law. This combination of functions, vested in a court
which can hear cases from any region of the world, which has the
scope to consider all substantive aspects of international law, and
which is endowed with the stature of the UN's principal judicial
organ gives the World Court a unique and potent role in the
peaceful resolution of disputes.