India, UK battle it out for vacant world court seat

The filling of a seat in the 15-member bench of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague has run into a stalemate with India and Britain contesting for the seat.

Justice Dalveer  Bhandari  

Dalveer Bhandari from India and Christopher Greenwood from the UK are seeking re-election to one vacant seat at the Hague-based International Court of Justice after four of the five open seats were filled.

Bhandari received absolute majority in the General Assembly elections in all the five rounds and, in fact, bettered his vote tally from Thursday's 115 to 121 votes in yesterday's election. Greenwood's vote tally, on the other hand, dropped from 76 to 68 on Monday.

The minimum votes required for an absolute majority in the General Assembly is 97.

In separate voting in the UN Security Council to elect the remaining one candidate for the ICJ, Britain's Greenwood, however, received nine votes while Bhandari got five votes.

Britain is a permanent member of the Security Council where Greenwood has an advantage over Bhandari, although Bhandari received five votes in the 14-member Council.

This prompted comments from Congress leader and a former contender for UN Secretary-General's post Shashi Tharoor of the "UK trying to stall the will of the majority of the UN General Assembly".

The "voice of the General Assembly" has been ignored for too long, Tharoor said ahead of the voting. "As the UN Security Council (SC) & General Assembly (GA) 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," he tweeted.

"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 said.

A third of the ICJ's 15-member bench is elected every three years for a nine-year term, in simultaneous voting at the United Nations General Assembly and the Security Council.

Four of the six candidates in fray - 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 of elections on Thursday.

As per the UN laws, the candidates need secure absolute majority in both the General Assembly and the Security Council to be considered elected the post.

With the two countries in a deadlock over the one remaining ICJ seat, both the General Assembly and Security Council decided to adjourn the meeting for the election to be convened at a later date.

The General Assembly and the Security Council will fix the next date of election after consultation with each other.

Bhandari, the fourth Indian to be a member of the ICJ, was elected to 15-member bench in 2012. The UK, a P5 member,  on the other hand has had an ICJ representative since 1946.

Bhandari was elevated to the bench as a judge of the Delhi High Court in 1991. In 2004, he was made Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court, before being elevated to the Supreme Court in 2005.