What is an Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice (ICJ)?
Last Updated: Sep 20, 2019     Views: 17791

An advisory opinion is legal advice provided to the United Nations or a specialized agency by the International Court of Justice, in accordance with Article 96 of the UN Charter. 

  • The General Assembly and the Security Council may request advisory opinions on "any legal matter" 
  • Other organs and the specialized agencies may request advisory opinions on "legal questions arising within the scope of their activities"

Chapter IV, Articles 65-68 of the Statute of the ICJ and Part IV, Articles 102-109 of the Rules of Court concern advisory opinions.

The ICJ website lists organs currently authorized to request advisory opinions.

As of 2017, there have been 28 requests for advisory proceedings

  • 17 by the General Assembly
  • 1 by the Security Council
  • 2 by the Economic and Social Council 
  • 3 by the Committee for Review of Administrative Tribunal Judgments
  • 1 by UNESCO, 2 by WHO, 1 by IMO, 1 by IFAD

In general, advisory opinions are not binding, but may inform the development of international law. According to the ICJ website, advisory opinions:

"carry great legal weight and moral authority. They are often an instrument of preventive diplomacy and have peace-keeping virtues. Advisory opinions also, in their way, contribute to the elucidation and development of international law and thereby to the strengthening of peaceful relations between States."

Sep 20, 2019     17791


Disclaimer: answers are prepared by library staff using resources available at the time of writing. This site may include links and references to third-party databases, websites, books and articles, this does not imply endorsement by the United Nations.


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