The President and Vice-President are elected by secret ballot by a majority of the members. They serve for a period of three years and may be re-elected. The President directs the work and supervises the administration of the Tribunal and represents the Tribunal in its relations with States and other entities. The President presides at all meetings of the Tribunal. In the event of an equality of votes, the President has a casting vote. The President is also an ex officio member of the Chamber of Summary Procedure. The President presides over any special chamber of which he is a member.
The Vice-President exercises the functions of the presidency in the event of a vacancy in the presidency or of the inability of the President to exercise the functions of the presidency. The Vice-President is an ex officio member of the Chamber of Summary Procedure and presides over any special chamber of which he or she is a member when the chamber does not include the President.
On 2 October 2020 the Tribunal elected Judge Albert J. Hoffmann (South Africa) as President of the Tribunal for the period 2020-2023 and Judge Tomas Heidar (Iceland) as Vice-President of the Tribunal for the period 2020-2023.
The following judges have served as President or Vice-President before the current holders of those offices:
|1996 - 1999||Thomas Mensah||Rüdiger Wolfrum|
|1999 - 2002||P. Chandrasekhara Rao||L. Dolliver M. Nelson|
|2002 - 2005||L. Dolliver M. Nelson||Budislav Vukas|
|2005 - 2008||Rüdiger Wolfrum||Joseph Akl|
|2008 - 2011||José Luis Jesus||Helmut Türk|
|2011 - 2014||Shunji Yanai||Albert Hoffmann|
|2014 - 2017||Vladimir Golitsyn||Boualem Bouguetaia|
|2017 - 2020||Jin-Hyun Paik||David Joseph Attard|