ICJ elections: New round of balloting scheduled for Monday; Dalveer Bhandari, Christopher Greenwood in fray

United Nations: A new round of balloting for the judgeship of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the deadlocked reelection bids of Judge Dalveer Bhandari of India and Judge Christopher Greenwood of Britain is to be held on Monday, Brenden Varma, the spokesperson for Assembly President Miroslav Lajcak, announced on Thursday.

Under the election procedures, the balloting would be held simultaneously by the Assembly and the Council.

Varma said that Lajcak would preside over the voting in the Assembly.

The contest has emerged as a test of wills between the Assembly and Council. Bhandari has nearly a two-thirds majority in Assembly, while Greenwood has a slender majority in the Council. Since the rules require a majority in both chambers, neither of them have been able to be elected.

Neither body has been willing to compromise. So far 11 rounds of balloting have been held in the Assembly and 10 in the Council.

The International Court of Justice. Image courtesy: UN website

The International Court of Justice. Image courtesy: UN website

Four other candidates were elected in the first four rounds with majorities in both chambers, leading to a runoff between Bhandari and Greenwood for the remaining seat. Seven rounds of runoff balloting in the Assembly and six in the Council have not been been able to break the deadlock.

If the voting on Monday afternoon does not resolve the stalemate, Varma said: "There are procedures that can be done here in New York." "For example, a joint conference can be formed that consists of six members, three appointed by the General Assembly and three by the Security Council," he said. "And this joint conference could, by an absolute majority, agree upon one name for each of the vacancies, that is one seat (in this case), and submit that for acceptance to the Assembly and the Council."

"We are not there yet," he added, "It is up to the member states to decide how to go ahead with this and if we will arrive at the joint conference or not."

The issue of the imbalance of power between the two chambers has become the focal point of the election runoff between Bhandari and Greenwood, who is from a permanent member of the Council.

Under the current system, 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 loss of one of their own.

Bhandari, who originally ran for the Asia-Pacific 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 an unprecedented contest featuring a candidate from a permanent member of the Council and one who is not for the same seat.

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 the first four rounds of voting on 9 November.


Updated Date: Nov 17, 2017 09:57 AM

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