World Court and International Law

June 17, 1959

Report Outline
Movement to Strengthen World Court
Development of International Courts
Role of Law in International Relations

Movement to Strengthen World Court

A new movement to promote the rule of law among nations appears to be making some headway in this country despite, or because of, the growing part played by force and threats of force in world affairs. President Eisenhower observed in his State of the Union message last January that all peoples were “sorely tired of the fear, destruction, and the waste of war” and were seeking “to replace force with a genuine rule of law among nations.” The President said it was his purpose, during the final two years of his administration, to intensify efforts toward this end. Measures to be proposed later would include “a re-examination of our own relation to the International Court of Justice.”

Vice President Nixon, taking up the subject in an address before the Academy of Political Science at New York on April 13, declared that if the “sword of annihilation” was ever to be “removed from its precarious balance over the head of all mankind,” some more positive courses of action than massive military deterrence “must somehow be found.” The primary problem, Nixon said, was “not the creation of new international institutions but the fuller and more fruitful use of the institutions we already possess.”

Nixon's Advocacy of Wider Utilization of Court

The International Court of Justice, better known as the World Court, was cited by the Vice President as an international institution which could “profitably be employed in a wider range of cases than is presently done.” He pointed out that this country bore major responsibility for the Court's small case load. By reserving the right to make its own decision as to whether a case fell exclusively within the domestic jurisdiction of the United States, and therefore outside the jurisdiction of the World Court, it had encouraged other nations to adopt similar reservations. Nixon said the administration now proposed to reverse the process. It would ask Congress to modify the original reservation in the “hope that, by our taking the initiative in this way, other countries may be persuaded to accept and agree to a wider jurisdiction of the International Court”

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
World Court
Jun. 17, 1959  World Court and International Law
Jul. 25, 1929  The Kellogg Treaty and the World Court
Dec. 26, 1925  Decisions and Sanctions of the World Court
Dec. 14, 1925  The Senate and the World Court
Jan. 24, 1925  The World Court and the Geneva Protocol
Dec. 31, 1923  The Permanent Court of International Justice
International Law and Agreements