Five judges elected to serve on UN International Court of Justice

6 November 2008
Member of Security Council casts  vote to elect new members of the ICJ

The General Assembly and the Security Council today elected five judges to serve nine-year terms on the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the principal judicial organ of the United Nations, starting early next year.

After simultaneous but separate meetings throughout the day at UN Headquarters in New York, the Council and the Assembly re-elected two judges whose terms were due to expire and chose three new judges to serve on the ICJ, which is based in The Hague and is also known as the World Court.

Candidates needed to obtain an absolute majority of votes in the General Assembly (97) and in the Security Council (eight) to be elected to the ICJ. Judges serve for nine-year terms and can be re-elected, and no two of the 15 judges who serve on the court can be from the same country.

Ronny Abraham of France and Awn Shawkat Al-Khasawneh, whose terms had been due to expire on 5 February 2009, were re-elected after receiving a majority in the first round of voting in both the Assembly and the Council.

Christopher Greenwood of the United Kingdom and Brazil’s Antônio Augusto Cançado Trindade were also elected in the first round in both the Assembly and the Council, and will begin their terms on 6 February next year.

After several subsequent rounds of voting, Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf of Somalia was also elected, while the declared candidates Sayeman Bula-Bula (Democratic Republic of the Congo), Miriam Defensor-Santiago (Philippines) and Maurice Kamto (Cameroon) were unsuccessful.

The three new judges replace Rosalyn Higgins of the United Kingdom (who currently serves as ICJ President), Gonzalo Parra-Aranguren of Venezuela and Madagascar’s Raymond Ranjeva, whose terms all expire on 5 February.

The other current members are: Shi Jiuyong (China), Abdul G. Koroma (Sierra Leone), Thomas Buergenthal (United States), Hisashi Owada (Japan), Bruno Simma (Germany), Peter Tomka (Slovakia), Kenneth Keith (New Zealand), Bernardo Sepúlveda-Amor (Mexico), Mohamed Bennouna (Morocco) and Leonid Skotnikov (Russia). Their terms in office expire in either 2012 or 2015.

Established in 1945 under the UN Charter, the ICJ settles legal disputes between States and gives advisory opinions on legal questions that have been referred to it by authorized UN organs or specialized agencies.


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