International law, as it exists today, provides several mechanisms for the resolution of disputes between states, individuals and private entities. These mechanisms are established through multilateral treaties. For example, the United Nations Charter, in 1945, established the International Court of Justice (ICJ). It is considered the “principal judicial organ” of the entire body of the United Nations and all Member States are automatically parties to the ICJ and its statute. All 193 Member States are therefore capable of appearing before the Court for legal and advisory matters. In the ICJ, however, only States themselves may appear as parties, excluding international organizations, non-governmental organizations, transnational corporations or individuals.
In 2002, the Rome Statute entered into force, establishing the permanent International Criminal Court (ICC). It was established to “investigate, prosecute and try individuals accused of committing the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole, namely the crime of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression.” It must be emphasized that while the ICC works in conjunction with the United Nations it is inherently and independent judicial body. Thus, it is different from the ICJ in its scope as it tries individuals rather than settling disputes between states. In the aftermath of some of the heinous atrocities of World War II, certain international instruments were adopted to stem recidivism. The United Nations General Assembly acknowledged the need for a permanent court to address these atrocities. After what occurred in Yugoslavia and Rwanda, the United Nations Security Council set up ad hoc tribunals to adjudicate the criminal activities perpetrated in these states. By 1998, the pressing need for a permanent mechanism led to the development of the ICC.
Beyond these two bodies, there are a number of international and regional adjudicatory mechanisms established to process criminal and civil claims between state and non-state parties. These include international alternative dispute resolution bodies like the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) and the International Court of Arbitration (ICA), created under the International Chamber of Commerce. There are also several regional courts such as the European and African Courts of Human Rights.