The term international courts covers many institutions with different structures and functions. Common among them is that they adjudicate disputes based upon principles of law rather than the wealth or political power of participants and thus are judicial bodies. Another commonality is that they have been created by agreements between states and are therefore international. Most international courts decide disputes occurring between states rather than individuals. For example, the International Court of Justice is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations. Its main function is to resolve legal disputes among members of the United Nations. Individuals cannot be parties to legal proceedings at the International Court of Justice.

One of the few bodies of international law that directly affects individuals is international criminal law. Certain ...

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