The Elgar Companion to the International Court of Justice
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The Elgar Companion to the International Court of Justice

Robert Kolb

The first in a series of Companions that offer broad coverage of a range of international courts and tribunals, The Elgar Companion to the International Court of Justice is a one-stop reference for those wishing to understand this highly significant and successful court.
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Chapter 4: The ICJ and other tribunals in The Hague

Robert Kolb


This chapter is particularly relevant for the general public and the news media – unfortunately for whom, there are several international tribunals seated at The Hague. This is because The Hague can be thought of as the ‘legal’ capital of the world; it is where the Permanent Court of Arbitration was created and seated, and later the Permanent Court of International Justice (PCIJ) and International Court of Justice (ICJ) developed. It was therefore natural to seat in the same town several other (although not all) international tribunals created subsequently, since they would benefit from the experience of the local political authorities in their dealings with the tribunals, the facilities already in existence on the spot (the library, for example), along with other advantages. The difficulty for both the public and the news media is to understand and maintain the distinction between each of these tribunals. This is not always achieved, and there is often confusion between, for example, the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the ICJ. This state of affairs is more than regrettable. Not much can be said with regard to those who are intentionally dismissive of international institutions, but it is more than inadequate to contribute to a general state of misinformation based on sheer confusion. This chapter aims to remedy this situation as far as it can do so. Which are the most important of the other tribunals seated at The Hague? There are two arbitration tribunals and two institutional criminal tribunals.

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