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World Court Digest

III. The International Court of Justice
1.2. Consent of States

¤ Military and Paramilitary Activities
(Nicaragua/United States of America)
Merits. J. 27.6.1986
I.C.J. Reports 1986, p. 14

[p. 32] The Court's jurisdiction, as it has frequently recalled, is based on the consent of States, expressed in a variety of ways including declarations made under Article 36, paragraph 2, of the Statute. It is the declaration made by the United States under that Article which defines the categories of dispute for which the United States consents to the Court's jurisdiction. If therefore that declaration, because of a reservation contained in it, excludes from the disputes for which it accepts the Court's jurisdiction certain disputes arising under multilateral treaties, the Court must take that fact into account. The final decision on this point, which it was not possible to take at the jurisdictional stage, can and must be taken by the Court now when coming to its decision on the merits. If this were not so, the Court would not have decided whether or not the objection was well-founded, either at the jurisdictional stage, because it did not possess an exclusively preliminary character, or at the merits stage, because it did to some degree have such a character.

[p. 183 S.O. Ago] It can never be sufficiently emphasized that acceptance of the Court's compulsory jurisdiction on the basis of Article 36, paragraph 2, of its Statute is a sovereign, voluntary act the effects of which are strictly confined to the limits within which it was conceived and intended. The Court therefore proceeded correctly in holding itself obliged to conclude that the jurisdiction conferred upon it by the declaration of acceptance which the United States made in 1946 under Article 36, paragraph 2, of the Statute did not enable it to entertain the complaints submitted by Nicaragua concerning the violation of the treaties in question.