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World Court Digest

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

¤ Case Concerning Armed Activities
on the Territory of the Congo
(Democratic Republic
of the Congo v. Uganda)
Order of 29 November 2001

[pp. Decl. Verhoeven] That said, it is a specific feature of the International Court of Justice that its jurisdiction is currently purely voluntary. That jurisdiction exists only because and insofar as the parties have so desired it. It is therefore possible that the Court, absent agreement, may not be able to assume jurisdiction tomorrow in respect of a claim of which it is seised today by way of counter-claim.
Are we accordingly to conclude that the Court should adopt a particularly "liberal" approach when ruling on the admissibility of a counter-claim and, in particular, on the requirement that the counter-claim be directly connected to the subject-matter of the principal claim? I seriously doubt it. It is true that the peaceful settlement of disputes could be enhanced by such an approach. However, the risk is that it would encourage States to avoid a Court which keeps too many "surprises" up its sleeve, rather than submit to its jurisdiction. Further, the internal logic of a system of voluntary jurisdiction undoubtedly requires - irrespective of any considerations of jurisdictional policy - particular rigour in evaluating the connection which the counter-claim must have with the principal claim if it is not to be ruled inadmissible.