By Barry Turner
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Additional resources for The Statesman’s Yearbook 2008: The Politics, Cultures and Economies of the World
The Court is composed of 15 judges, each of a different nationality, elected by an absolute majority by the General Assembly and the Security Council to nine-year terms of office. The composition of the Court must reflect the main forms of civilization and principal legal systems of the world. Elections are held every three years for one-third of the seats; retiring judges may be re-elected. Judges do not represent their respective governments but sit as independent magistrates. They must have the qualifications required in their respective countries for appointment to the highest judicial offices, or be jurists of recognized competence in international law.
The UN has six principal organs established by the founding Charter. All have their headquarters in New York except the International Court of Justice, which has its seat in The Hague. These core bodies work through dozens of related agencies, operational programmes and funds, and through special agreements with separate, autonomous, intergovernmental agencies, known as Specialized Agencies, to provide a programme of action in the fields of peace and security, justice and human rights, humanitarian assistance, and social and economic development.
Disputes concerning the jurisdiction of the Court are settled by the Court’s own decision. The Court may apply in its decision: (a) international conventions; (b) international custom; (c) the general principles of law recognized by civilized nations; (d) as subsidiary means for the determination of the rules of law, judicial decisions and the teachings of highly qualified publicists. If the parties agree, the Court may decide a case ex aequo et bono. Since 1946 the Court has delivered 93 judgments on disputes concerning inter alia land frontiers and maritime boundaries, territorial sovereignty, the use of force, interference in the internal affairs of States, diplomatic relations, hostage-taking, the right of asylum, nationality, guardianship, rights of passage and economic rights.