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World Court Digest

III. The International Court of Justice
1.3. Equality of Parties

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

[pp. 25-26] On the other hand, the Court has to emphasize that the equality of the parties to the dispute must remain the basic principle for the Court. The intention of Article 53 was that in a case of non-appearance neither party should be placed at a disadvantage; therefore the party which declines to appear cannot be permitted to profit from its absence, since this would amount to placing the party appearing at a disadvantage. The provisions of the Statute and Rules of Court concerning the presentation of pleadings and evidence are designed to secure a proper administration of justice, and a fair and equal opportunity for each party to comment on its opponent's contentions. The treatment to be given by the Court to communications or material emanating from the absent party must be determined by the weight to be given to these different considerations, and is not susceptible of rigid definition in the form of a precise general rule. The vigilance which the Court can exercise when aided by the presence of both parties to the

proceedings has a counterpart in the special care it has to devote to the proper administration of justice in a case in which only one party is present.