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Will Justice Bhandari make it to the ICJ?

By Lalit K Jha
Last updated on: November 14, 2017 14:44 IST
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Election for final seat on the International Court of Justice stays deadlocked.

Justice Dalveer Bhandari, India's nominee for the last seat in the World Court, has received overwhelming support from United Nations General Assembly members who defied permanent members of the UN Security Council to back him against Britain's candidate, resulting in a deadlock.

The battle between Justice Bhandari and Britain's Justice Christopher Greenwood for the International Court of Justice seat remained deadlocked on Monday, November 13, as neither legal luminary could get the required numbers of votes in the latest face-off.


Justice Bhandari and Justice Greenwood are seeking re-election at the Hague-based ICJ.

One-third of the court's 15-member bench are elected every three years for a nine-year term, elections for which are held separately but simultaneously in the UN General Assembly and Security Council in New York.

Last Thursday, November 9, four of the six candidates in the fray were elected, with an absolute majority in both the general assembly and security council.

Justices Ronny Abraham of France, Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf of Somalia, Antonio Augusto Cancado Trindade of Brazil and Nawaf Salam of Lebanon were elected after four rounds on Thursday.

On Monday, the UN General Assembly and the Security Council met separately to elect the remaining candidate for the ICJ.

In each of the five rounds of elections, Justice Greenwood received 9 votes while Justice Bhandari got 5 votes in the UN Security Council. The winner must secure 8 votes in the security council.

Given that Britain is a permanent member of the security council, Justice Greenwood has an advantage over Justice Bhandari.

Justice Bhandari -- a former Supreme Court justice -- received an absolute majority in the general assembly in all five rounds.

In fact, he increased his tally from Thursday's 115 votes to 121 votes in the general assembly election on Monday against the absolute majority number of 97.

Justice Greenwood's tally in the general assembly dropped from 76 to 68 votes on Monday.

Both the general assembly and security cvouncil adjourned the next meeting to a later date.

Ahead of Monday's voting, Congress MP Shashi Tharoor said the 'voice of the general assembly' had been ignored for far too long.

Dr Tharoor accused the UK of trying to stall the 'will of the majority of the UN general assembly'.

'As the UN Security Council & General Assembly vote to choose a judge for the International Court Of Justice (#ICJ) between Indian & UK candidates, the legitimacy & effectiveness of the UN are at stake. The voice of the GA has been ignored too long,' Dr Tharoor, a former UN under secretary-general, tweeedt.

'This time a nominee of a Permanent member of the SC has failed to get an absolute majority of the GA, for the first time in a direct contest to a major @UN organ. GA vote has turned into a protest against an unwarranted extension of privilege for 70+ years. P5 lost by 40votes!' he added.

Dr Tharoor said the election is no longer about the judge or the country he hails from, but about the general assembly standing up against a member of a privileged club who has lost comprehensively among the members at large but still leads 9-6 in the security council.

'The UK is trying to stall the will of the majority of the GA,' he charged.

Decisions at the UN, he said, must reflect the majority of members and cannot continue to be decided by a few States with long-held privileges.

Noting that this is not about India or any single country, he said this is about justice, equality and fairness.

IMAGE: Justice Dalveer Bhandari

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Lalit K Jha
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