The ICJ has no power to force countries to follow its rulings

The International Court of Justice is set to deliver its verdict in the Kulbhushan Jadhav case. But what the consequences of the judgement would be are unclear. And that is because of the nature of the court itself, and the powers it has been given as part of the United Nations Charter.

Here are 10 things to know:

1. The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is the prime legal body of the United Nations. It is sometimes referred to as the World Court, and is headquartered in The Hague in the Netherlands.

2. All members of the United Nations are automatically party to the ICJ. The ICJ panel of 15 judges is elected for nine-year terms by the UN General Assembly and Security Council.

3. The UN Charter made the ICJ the key source of international law, makings its rulings binding on all UN members. However, the court was given no power of its own to enforce any of its verdicts or rulings. 

4. The enforcement of the ICJ's rulings is tasked to the UN Security Council. This would take the familiar format of countries moving resolutions to press countries into following the ICJ's verdicts.

5. Apart from the international politics of getting such resolutions passed by the UN Security Council, there has also been the issue of countries choosing not to honour the court's verdict. What comes into play here is that because the ICJ has no power of its own, a country would have to decide whether or not it will implement the verdict.

6. All this means that irrespective of what the ICJ ruling on Kulbhushan Jadhav entails, it would be purely up to Pakistan to decide whether or not to execute him.

7. If Pakistan does continue to posture over Jadhav's execution, India's recourse would then be to take the matter to the Security Council.

8. A Security Council resolution is of limited utility. If Pakistan decides to ignore a UNSC resolution, the option would be sanctions that could threaten its already precarious economy. But sanctions would require the muscle of all five permanent members - US, UK, France, Russia and China.

9. Pakistan is likely to have a high degree of confidence that its all-weather friend China will veto any resolution to press Rawalpindi into returning Jadhav to India.

10. This would pose a problem for India and Jadhav. Not only has Chia showed its willingness to use its position at the UN to shield Pakistan's terrorism infrastructure - as it did by repeatedly blocking global efforts to formally designate Hafiz Saeed a terrorist. China too does not have a mention-worthy record in following international law. Beijing most recently demonstrated its willingness to ignore the rules-based global order by refusing to accept the ruling of an international tribunal on the South China Sea, because it favoured the Philippines.