Committees & Agenda Items

International Court of Justice (ICJ)

Agenda item: Case Concerning the Temple of Preah Vihear


The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is the main judicial organ of the United Nations. Established in 1945 by the Charter of the UN, it has its home in the Peace Palace at The Hague, Netherlands. The court's role is to settle legal disputes submitted to it by states in accordance with international law and to give advisory opinions on legal questions referred to it by authorized United Nations organs and specialized agencies. The court decides disputes between countries, based on the voluntary participation of the states concerned. If a state agrees to participate in a proceeding, it is obligated to comply with the court's decision.

The court consists of judges and advocates. The role of the judges is to decide which of the states involved in a case has merit and the role of the advocates is to argue their case to the court in order to sway the judges to decide in favor of the state that they are representing. The proceedings of the court are dictated by three senior judges with special titles: the president, the vice president, and the registrar.

The case regarding the temple of Preah Vihear is a territory dispute between Cambodia and Thailand, with Cambodia as the plaintiff and Thailand as the defendant. The Preah Vihear Temple is an ancient temple that was built during the Khmer Empire on top of a cliff in the Dangrek Mountains. As is the case in most territory disputes, both Cambodia and Thailand claim the temple to belong to their respective nations. The dispute arose from the different maps each party used in national delimitation. Now, the role of the court will be to determine which country will get to keep the Preah Vihear Temple as part of its sovereign borders.