Finding International Cases
International cases may be found on the UN Documents website, the websites of the various courts and in several law report series. Cases may be differently named in each source. For example, you may see the SS Lotus case cited as:
As there is no 'official' or 'authorised' international report series, any of the above versions can be used for citation purposes.
Finding International Cases on a Topic
For excellent summaries of cases by topic heard in the PCIJ and ICJ up until 1974, see:
There are many international courts, tribunals and arbitral bodies created by treaty. Many are specialised while some, such as the International Court of Justice, have general jurisdiction. International adjudicative bodies tend to fall into seven categories:
Disputes between States concerning international law can be heard in the International Court of Justice (provided the dispute is between States that have declared that the ICJ has compulsory jurisdiction), the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Appellate Body and the International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea (ITLOS). Inter-State litigation is based on the remedial principle of State Responsibility or international tort law. These courts are permanent institutions established by multilateral treaties and in general only determine disputes between States: individuals and other non-state actors are not generally able to be parties to a dispute (although there have been some notable exceptions). The decisions of these courts are final and binding on the parties.
This page of the international law research guide focuses on the ICJ, and its forerunner, the Permanent Court of International Justice.
Decisions of the ICJ & PCIJ
The International Court of Justice (ICJ)
The ICJ is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations. It was established and began delivering judgments, orders and advisory opinions in 1946. The ICJ has a twofold role: to settle, in accordance with international law, legal disputes submitted to it by States (Contentious cases ) and to give advisory opinions (Advisory proceedings) on legal questions referred to it by duly authorised United Nations organs and specialised agencies.
ICJ decisions, orders and opinions
Unreported decisions - all decisions from 1946 to the present are available in full text on the ICJ's Cases database on the official ICJ website (open access)
Note: unreported decisions appear much faster than the reported version, with the reported version currently being published about two years after the date of the decisions. Unreported decisions and opinions typically appear within weeks of the decision on the ICJ's decision database.
The Permanent Court of International Justice (PCIJ)
The PCIJ was the predecessor of the International Court of Justice. It held its inaugural sitting in 1922 and was dissolved in 1946. The work of the PCIJ, the first permanent international tribunal with general jurisdiction, made possible the clarification of a number of aspects of international law, and contributed to its development. Between 1922 and 1940 the PCIJ dealt with 29 contentious cases between States, and delivered 27 advisory opinions.
Databases and law report series containing judgments from multiple international courts
Noting up - subsequent consideration of international law decisions
Open Access Articles on International Courts
International Court of Justice - Latest Decisions and News
RSS feed from the Court
International Court and Tribunal Research Guides
Finding International Court of Justice Opinions - Online Tutorial
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