UNSC, UNGA heads mull over next step in ICJ election

United Nations, (IANS) Security Council President Sebastiano Cardi says that his office and that of General Assembly President Miroslav Lajcak are in touch about the next step in the world court judge’s election in which sitting judges Dalveer Bhandari of India and Christopher Greenwood of Britain are deadlocked.

“We are consulting with the PGA’s (President of the General Assembly’s) office in view of the differences (in the Assembly and Council balloting) right now,” Cardi told reporters on Wednesday. “We will have some news soon.”

Lajcak is now in Bonn for the Climate Change Conference. His spokesperson Brenden Varma said: “The dates should be announced soon for the next meeting of the General Assembly to take up the remaining International Court of Justice judge’s election.”

Bhandari won close to a two-thirds majority – 121 votes – in the 193-member Assembly in the last round of voting on Monday, but failed to get a majority in the Council where Greenwood won.

A candidate must get an absolute majority in both chambers to be elected.

Meanwhile, there was hectic diplomatic lobbying by India and Britain on behalf of their candidates for the eventual showdown.

The election has turned into a confrontation between the Assembly and Council over the imbalance of power between them.

Under the current system requiring majorities in both chambers, the nine votes that Greenwood won in the Council are enough to neutralise the votes of 121 countries that Bhandari received in the Assembly.

The Permanent Members have by tradition each had a judge on the world court. That is now being challenged by the Assembly, where a majority have been chafing under the unrepresentative character of the Council, which wields enormous powers, and want it reformed.

The Permanent Members and their allies, meanwhile, are rallying behind the British candidate as they do not want to see their perk endangered by the defeat of one of their own.

Neither the Council nor the Assembly have so far been willing to compromise.

Bhandari, who originally ran for the Asia seat on the ICJ, lost to Lebanese lawyer-turned-diplomat Nawaf Salam. But because Greenwood did not get a majority in the Assembly, he was not elected either and has been locked in a runoff stalemate with Bhandari.

Three incumbent judges of the ICJ — President Ronny Abraham of France, Vice President Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf of Somalia, and Antonio Augusto Cancado Trindade of Brazil – were elected along with Salam in four rounds of voting on November 9.

By Arul Louis

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