Revisiting the International Court of Justice Procedure for the Revision of Judgments

The International Court of Justice (“ICJ”) is a court of first and last instance. Its decisions are “final and without appeal.” At first blush, this seems uncontroversial; it is a simple restatement of the well-established principle of res judicata. But if the court makes a judicial pronouncement without all the facts to hand, can one say that the decision is legitimate and authoritative? Pursuant to article 61 of the ICJ’s Statute, the court does have the authority to revise a judgment in certain, limited circumstances. Revision is a remedy that enables the court, upon the application of a party, to reconsider an otherwise final and binding decision. An application for revision is admissible when a new fact is discovered that was unknown to the parties and the court during the proceedings, and which would have the effect of overturning or altering the court’s judgment.