A Court Without Authority

When the U.S. denied the World Court jurisdiction over its actions in Central America, the State Department quickly called the step a "tactical litigation move, not a sign of disrespect for the court." But the effect of the U.S. decision was to expose the court's limited clout.

Officially known as the International Court of Justice, the body was chartered in 1945 as the judicial organ of the United Nations, with its seat at The Hague. Its mandate: to settle disputes beween nations and advise the U.N. on questions of international law. The court's 15 judges, each paid $82,000 a year, are of...

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