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Elections completed for judges to International Criminal Court

Elections completed for judges to International Criminal Court

After four days and 33 rounds of secret balloting, the countries that gathered at United Nations Headquarters in New York to organize the world's only permanent war crimes tribunal have completed elections for the 18 judges who will be the first to serve on that new judicial body.

After 21 rounds of balloting on Friday alone, the first resumed session of the Assembly of States Parties to the International Criminal Court (ICC) elected the three jurists - Claude Jorda of France, Tuiloma Neroni Slade of Samoa and Mauro Politi of Italy - that will complete the Court. Rene Blattmann of Bolivia was elected in a session earlier that afternoon.

Meanwhile, the States Parties elected three judges Friday morning: Adrian Fulford of the United Kingdom; Hans-Peter Kaul of Germany and Anita Usacka of Latvia, who joins six other women already chosen for the bench.

Once the composition of the Court was completed Friday evening, States Parties drew lots to settle on the terms of office for the judges, six of whom would serve a full term of nine years, another six a term of six years, and the remainder a term of three years, as set out in the Statute.

Joining Mr. Kaul, Mr. Slade and Ms. Usacka for three-year terms will be Erkki Kourula of Finland, Akua Kuenyehia of Ghana and Sang-hyun Song of the Republic of Korea.

In addition to Mr. Blattmann, Mr. Jorda and Mr. Politi, Georghios M. Pikis of Cyprus, Philippe Kirsch of Canada, and Navanethem Pillay of South Africa will sit on the bench for six years.

Rounding out the group who will serve nine-year terms are Mr. Fulford, Karl Hudson-Phillips of Trinidad and Tobago, Maureen Harding Clark of Ireland, Fatoumata Dembele Diarra of Mali, Sylvia Helena de Figueiredo Steiner of Brazil, Elizabeth Odio Benito of Costa Rica.

All the judges will be sworn in when the Court is inaugurated on 11 March in The Hague. The jurists and the Prosecutor, who will be elected by consensus later, will be key to shaping the Court and making it an independent, fair and effective institution.

The Rome Statute, the treaty establishing the Court, entered into force 1 July 2002 and has been ratified by 88 countries. The Court is expected to be operational by the end of 2003 and will be the world's only permanent tribunal for prosecuting individuals responsible for war crimes, including genocide, and crimes against humanity, and, eventually, the crime of aggression. The Court will have jurisdiction only over crimes committed after the date when the Statute entered into force.