The United Nations General Assembly and Security Council today elected a fifth judge to a seat on the International Court of Justice (ICJ) – the principal judicial organ of the UN – following the election of four judges earlier this month.
After voting this afternoon in the Assembly and the Council, which met independently from but concurrently with each other, Patrick Lipton Robinson of Jamaica was elected to a nine-year term on the ICJ, starting on 6 February next year.
On 6 November, the Assembly and the Council elected four judges – Mr. Mohamed Bennouna of Morocco, Mr. James Richard Crawford of Australia, Ms. Joan E. Donoghue of the United States, and Mr. Kirill Gevorgian of the Russian Federation – also to nine-year terms beginning on 6 February 2015.
The two bodies were originally supposed to elect all five judges on 6 November, but, after seven rounds of voting in the Assembly and four rounds of voting in the Council, the fifth vacancy remained, as both of the two remaining candidates had garnered the required absolute majority.
The following day, several rounds of simultaneous voting in the Assembly and the Council failed to produce agreement on the same candidate to fill the remaining seat. In each of those rounds, Mr. Robinson consistently garnered the majority in the Assembly, while the Council selected Susana Ruiz Cerutti of Argentina.
The 15 judges serving on the Court are elected by an absolute majority in both the General Assembly (97 votes) and Security Council (8 votes).
Mr. Bennouna and Ms. Donoghue currently serve on the ICJ, but their current terms expire in February. Judges are eligible for re-election. The other judges’ terms in office expire in either 2018 or 2021.
The Court’s composition at 6 February 2015 will be as follows (terms expire on 5 February of the year in parentheses): Peter Tomka, Slovakia (2021); Ronny Abraham, France (2018); Mohamed Bennouna, Morocco (2024); Dalveer Bhandari, India (2018); Joan E. Donoghue, United States (2024); Antônio Augusto Cançado Trindade, Brazil (2018); Giorgio Gaja, Italy (2021); Christopher Greenwood, United Kingdom (2018); James Richard Crawford (Australia) (2024); Hisashi Owada, Japan (2021); Xue Hanqin, China (2021); Julia Sebutinde, Uganda (2021); Kirill Gevorgian, Russian Federation (2024); Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf, Somalia (2018); and Patrick Lipton Robinson, Jamaica (2024).
According to the Court’s Statute, its judges must be chosen by coordinated actions of both the Council and the General Assembly, with the date of elections determined by the Council.
Judges are chosen on the basis of their qualifications, not their nationality, but no two judges can be from the same country. Effort is also taken to ensure that the principal legal systems of the world are reflected in the composition of the court.
Established in 1945, and based in The Hague in the Netherlands, the ICJ – which is also known as the “World Court” – settles legal disputes between States and gives advisory opinions on legal questions that have been referred to it by other authorized UN organs.