India wins battle of judges at the Hague

21 Nov 2017


India's justice Dalveer Bhandari was finally reelected to the panel of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) judges after three rounds of voting that saw the larger UN General Assembly overwhelmingly supporting India over the UK's nominee Christopher Greenwood, who had backing only from the Security Council, decided to withdraw.

Dalveer Bhandari  

In the face of overwhelming support to India's nominee in the UN General Assembly, UK, withdrew its candidate leaving only Bhandari in the fray.

In the last round of General Assembly voting, Bhandari increased his tally to 121 votes with Greenwood backed only in the Security Council, securing only 68 votes, in what is seen as big diplomatic win for India.

With many Commonwealth countries also siding with India to rally against the Security Council's continued predominance in the conduct of the world body, Britain will now be left without a judge in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in its 71-year history.

India's permanent representative to the UN Syed Akbaruddin quoted British poet Tennyson's immortal line "the old order changeth, yielding place to new" to describe the mood in the United Nations.

The development is being seen as the biggest diplomatic victory for India and a humiliating blow to Britiain's international prestige - an acceptance of its diminished status in international affairs.

It is also a personal win for Akbaruddin who successfully orchestrated the Indian campaign that ensured that a UK proposal for a joint conference of the two bodies to break the deadlock had no takers.

UK needed support from 8 members of the Security Council to stall voting and instead go for a joint conference. However, Several Security Council members were opposed to the proposal as they agreed with India's position that this was an "undemocratic" move which would only further complicate the process.

Also, for a joint conference to be formed, all 15 council members would have had to publicly endorse UK's proposal, something which countries like US and France, who regularly profess their friendship and strategic partnership with India, would have been averse to.

The UK says it is naturally disappointed with the loss of its seat on International Court of Justice after withdrawing its candidate because of a run-off vote against an Indian judge.

The UK's permanent representative to the UN, Ambassador Matthew Rycroft, said,"The UK has concluded that it is wrong to take up the valuable time of the Security Council and the UN General Assembly with further rounds of elections.  The UK congratulates the successful candidates, including Judge Bhandari of India.

"We are naturally disappointed, but it was a competitive field with six strong candidates. If the UK could not win in this run-off, then we are pleased that it is a close friend like India that has done so instead."

The setback is being regarded by some diplomats as the result of waning international influence following the vote to leave the European Union.

Five judges are elected to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) every three years.

Ronny Abraham of France, Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf of Somalia, Antonio Augusto Cancado Trindade of Brazil and Nawaf Salam of Lebanon have been elected to the bench along with Judge Bhandari.

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