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UN Elects 4 New Judges for International Court of Justice

THE HAGUE (ABC Live): International Court of Justice : The General Assembly and the Security Council of the United Nations yesterday elected four Members of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for a term of office of nine years, beginning on 6 February 2018.

Judges Ronny Abraham (France), Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf (Somalia) and Antônio Augusto Cançado Trindade (Brazil) were re-elected as Members of the Court. Mr. Nawaf Salam (Lebanon) was elected as a new Member of the Court. The election of a fifth Member of the Court could not be concluded on Thursday, since no candidate obtained a majority in both the General Assembly and the Security Council.

That election will continue on Monday 13 November 2017. The biographies of the re-elected Members of the Court are available on the Court’s website ( under the heading “The Court”. The biography of the newly elected Member is annexed to this press release.

In February 2018, the Court as newly constituted will proceed to elect from among its Members a President and a Vice-President, who will hold office for three years.

Composition of the Court: General The International Court of Justice, which is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations, comprises 15 judges, who are each elected to a nine-year term of office and may be re-elected.

In order to ensure a measure of continuity in the composition of the Court, one third of the membership is renewed every three years. In accordance with Article 2 of the Statute of the Court, judges are elected “regardless of their nationality from among persons of high moral character, who possess the qualifications required in their respective countries for appointment to the highest judicial offices, or are jurisconsults of recognized competence in international law”.

Article 9 of the Statute further requires that, “in the body as a whole the representation of the main forms of civilization and of the principal legal systems of the world should be assured”. No two Members of the Court may be of the same nationality.

Submission of candidacies All States parties to the Statute of the Court (currently 193) have the right to propose candidates. However, candidates are not nominated directly by governments but by the national groups in the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) or, in the case of States not participating in the – 2 – PCA, by similarly constituted national groups. The Permanent Court of Arbitration, which is based in The Hague, was established under the Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907.

Each State party to those Conventions (currently 121) has its own national group, that is to say, a group of up to four jurists who can be called upon to serve as members of an arbitral tribunal under the Conventions. When an election takes place to fill vacancies at the International Court of Justice, each national group can propose up to four candidates, not more than two of whom may be of its own nationality.

The others may be from any other country. The names of candidates must be communicated to the Secretary-General of the United Nations. Election procedure Members of the Court are elected by the General Assembly and by the Security Council.

These organs vote at the same time but independently of one another. This procedure is intended to ensure, as far as possible, that the vote in one organ does not influence the vote in the other. In order to be elected, a candidate must receive an absolute majority of the votes in both organs, that is to say, currently 97 votes in the General Assembly and eight votes in the Security Council, where no right of veto applies for the purpose of the election and no distinction is made between the votes of the permanent and non-permanent members of the Council.

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations. It was established by the United Nations Charter in June 1945 and began its activities in April 1946. The seat of the Court is at the Peace Palace in The Hague (Netherlands). Of the six principal organs of the United Nations, it is the only one not located in New York.

The Court has a twofold role: first, to settle, in accordance with international law, legal disputes submitted to it by States (its judgments have binding force and are without appeal for the parties concerned); and, second, to give advisory opinions on legal questions referred to it by duly authorized United Nations organs and agencies of the system.

The Court is composed of 15 judges elected for a nine-year term by the General Assembly and the Security Council of the United Nations. Independent of the United Nations Secretariat, it is assisted by a Registry, its own international secretariat, whose activities are both judicial and diplomatic, as well as administrative. The official languages of the Court are French and English.

Also known as the “World Court”, it is the only court of a universal character with general jurisdiction.

About Andrew

Mr. Robert Andrew is Geneva based Research Journalist reports for ABC Live on super specialized subjects from all around the Europe.

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