Published On: Tue, Nov 21st, 2017

How UK lost and India Clinched International Court of Justice place

The International Court of Justice is the principal legal body of the United Nations. It is based in The Hague and its job is to settle disputes between states.

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UN Security Council members cast their vote during a meeting on the election of five members of the International Court of Justice.

Lots of its work is highly technical and not exactly the stuff of the front pages. And let’s be honest, many people would probably not have known that one of the 15 judges had always been British ever since the court was set up after the Second World War.

But the loss of a British presence around that supreme judicial bench is of huge significance – not just to the court but to the UK’s standing in the world.

This is how it happened. Five of the 15 judges are elected every three years to ensure continuity. Britain’s judge, Sir Christopher Greenwood, was hoping to win re-election for a second nine year term. He is a highly distinguished lawyer and former professor in international law at the LSE.

But there was a hitch. Rather unexpectedly, Lebanon’s former ambassador to the UN put his hat in the ring. So instead of there being five candidates for five places, now there were six.

And the former ambassador, having spent many years at the UN, had enough friends to win the election. He won one of the slots reserved for candidates from Asia. This meant the Indian candidate – Dalveer Bhandari – had to try his luck for a slot normally reserved for Europeans and in this case that meant challenging the UK.

In recent days, the four other candidates were elected. But while Sir Christopher won the support of the UN Security Council, the Indian judge was backed by the UN General Assembly. A successful candidate needs a majority of support in both bodies. And after repeated votes, there was deadlock.

 

 

 

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