24th Plenary Meeting - General Assembly 75th Session - Resumed

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12-Nov-2020 00:38:14
General Assembly, in second secret ballot round, elects five judges to serve nine-year-long terms on International Court of Justice.

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Meeting concurrently with the Security Council, the General Assembly today elected five judges — including four incumbents — out of a pool of eight candidates to the International Court of Justice in The Hague to serve nine-year terms beginning 6 February 2021.

Elected during a second round of voting by secret ballot were incumbents Yuji Iwasawa (Japan); Xue Hanqin (China), the Court’s Vice-President; Peter Tomka (Slovakia); and Julia Sebutinde (Uganda). Also elected was Georg Nolte (Germany).

A first round of voting in the Assembly on 11 November was inconclusive after more than five candidates received more than an absolute majority of votes cast by the 193 Member States of the United Nations. (See Press Release GA/12284.)

Volkan Bozkir (Turkey), President of the Assembly, who announced the results, read a letter from the President of the Security Council stating that the same candidates similarly received the required majority of votes among that body’s 15 members.

Mr. Iwasawa was first elected on 22 June 2018 to serve the remainder of the nine-year term of office held by Hisashi Owada (Japan), whose resignation from the Court took effect on 7 June 2018. An expert in public international law, he was previously Chair of the Human Rights Committee (International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights) from 2009 to 2011 and again from 2017 to 2018 and a Professor of International Law at the University of Tokyo from 2005 to 2018.

Mr. Nolte was most recently a member of the International Law Commission since January 2017, serving as Chair of its sixty-ninth session in 2017 as well as its Special Rapporteur on Subsequent agreements and subsequent practice in relation to the interpretation of treaties from 2012 to 2018. He has been Professor of International Law at Humboldt University in Berlin since April 2008.

Ms. Xue, a member of the Court since 29 June 2010, was re-elected as from 6 February 2012 and became its Vice-President on 6 February 2018. Prior to joining the Court, she was her country’s Ambassador to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) from 2008 to 2010 and its Ambassador to the Netherlands and Permanent Representative to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons from 2003 to 2008.

Mr. Tomka, who first joined the Court on 6 February 2003, served as its Vice-President from 6 February 2009 to 5 February 2012 and as its President from 6 February 2012 to 5 February 2015. He previously served in his country’s foreign ministry in numerous legal advisory capacities, and also as part of its United Nations delegation.

Ms. Sebutinde, a member of the Court since 6 February 2012, was appointed Judge of the High Court of Uganda in 1996. She chaired three high-level commissions of inquiry into alleged corruption in the Uganda Police Force, the Uganda Peoples Defence Forces and the Uganda Revenue Authority, respectively. In 2005, she was seconded to the United Nations-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone, where she was appointed the Presiding Judge in the trial of Charles Taylor, former President of Liberia.

Prior to voting, Member States had before them a memorandum by the Secretary‑General (document A/75/130) detailing the Court’s current composition and the procedure to be followed in the Assembly and the Council with regard to the election; a list of candidates nominated by national groups (document A/75/129); and the curricula vitae of the candidates (document A/75/131).

The Court’s justices are elected by obtaining an absolute majority of votes in both the Assembly and the Council, without regard to their nationality, from among persons of high moral character around the world. Each must have the qualifications required in his or her respective country for appointment to the highest judicial office or is a jurisconsult of recognized competencies in international law. No two judges may be from the same country and they may not engage in any other occupation during their term of office.

As the principal judicial organ of the United Nations, the International Court of Justice settles legal disputes between States parties and gives advisory opinions to the Organization and its specialized agencies. The Court is open to all parties to its Statute, which automatically includes all Members of the United Nations.

The remaining 10 judges sitting on the Court, whose terms expire either in 2024 or 2027, are its President, Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf (Somalia); Ronny Abraham (France); Mohamed Bennouna (Morocco); Antônio Augusto Cançado Trindade (Brazil); Joan E. Donoghue (United States); Dalveer Bhandari (India); Patrick Lipton Robinson (Jamaica); James Richard Crawford (Australia); Kirill Gevorgian (Russian Federation); and Nawaf Salam (Lebanon).

The General Assembly will reconvene at 3 p.m. on Thursday, 12 November, to take up a draft decision on its procedure for decision-making when an in-person meeting is not possible.

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