The International Court of Justice, which began in 1946 after the formation of the collective hegemon of World War II victor-states in the form of the U.N. Security Council, is an official organ of the United Nations and the maintains 15 elected judges, elected by the United Nations and the United Nations Security Council, serving nine year terms. Much younger than the International Court of Justice, the International Criminal Court is an independent international court based off the Rome Statute which began operations in 2002. The International Court of Justice handles cases of member states in areas focusing on sovereignty, trade, natural resources, treaty violations, and treaty interpretations while the International Criminal Court was established to try cases concerning crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression. Looking at these categories of crime, the following definitions apply:
Genocide – destroying, completely or in partial, a group under the category of national, ethnical, racial and religious group.
Crimes against Humanity – which would consist of murder, extermination, enslavement torture, rape, sexual pregnancy, mass sterilization, apartheid, and other inhumane acts
War Crimes – Breeching the Geneva Convention in areas of mutilation, attacking civilian populations, attacking religious, medical or educations structures, and recruiting children under the age of 15 into armed groups participating in hostilities.
Aggression – Invasion, occupation, annexation by force, or naval blockades.
Since the area of jurisdiction of Aggression is new jurisdiction for the International Criminal Court, it will not be an area of jurisdiction available under the International Criminal Court until 2017.
Member states of the United Nations are automatically members of the International Criminal Court while states must be individually admitted under the International Court of Justice. While the International Criminal Court will issue criminal prosecutions, the International Court of Justice holds more weight due to the possibility of UN Security Council enforcement of those judgments. One area that should be noted that the United States, China, India and Israel never ratified the Rome Statue and therefore never became members of the International Criminal Court. After all, the bulk of these decisions will be economic in nature. The historical development of today’s International Court of Justice has evolved out of The Hague Peace Conferences and the Permanent Court of Arbitration, and the Permanent Court of International Justice.
It should also be identified that the International Criminal Court is focused on prosecutions of individuals while the International Court of Justice is aimed toward cases involving actual states. Considering individual International Criminal Court jurisdiction, the International Criminal Court is not authorized to try children under the age of 18.
International Court of Justice, History of the Court, http://www.icj-cij.org/court/index.php?p1=1&p2=1#originsInternational Criminal Court, About the Court, http://www.icc-cpi.int/EN_Menus/ICC/Pages/default.aspx