International Court of Justice and India
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Indian judges in the ICJ
2017: Dalveer Bhandari
1st Time Britain Won’t Hold ICJ Post In 71 Yrs
New Delhi: India scored a dramatic diplomatic victory with the election of its candidate, Dalveer Bhandari, to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) after the UK withdrew its nominee in the face of overwhelming support in the UN General Assembly for the Indian judge.
Atop Indian diplomat quoted British poet Lord Tennyson, “the old order changeth, yielding place to new”, to describe the upbeat mood in the Indian camp and the major shift in equations between the UK and its former colony, with the development read as India’s biggest diplomatic coup in years.
This will be the first time in the 71-year-old history of the ICJ that there will be no British judge in what is described as “the world court”. Guardian described UK candidate Christopher Greenwood’s defeat as a humiliating blow to British international prestige and proof of its diminished status in international affairs.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi swiftly congratulated Bhandari in a tweet, calling his re-election to ICJ a proud moment and thanked members of the (UN general) assembly and (UN security) council. Foreign minister Sushma Swaraj tweeted “Vande Mataram” and “Jai Hind” as she singled out India’s permanent representative to the UN, Syed Akbaruddin, for special mention.
The extremely aggressive, in-your-face Indian campaign was led by India’s permanent representative.
India scuttles UK’s plan to leverage its P-5 status
It ensured that there were few takers for an arcane UK proposal that a “joint conference” be formed, as first reported by TOI on Sunday, to break the deadlock between the UNGA and UNSC. The old-fashioned attempt to leverage its status as a P-5 member failed as India insisted the will of the UNGA could not be ignored.
Bhandari’s election come as a shot in the arm for the Modi government with its increased diplomatic clout read in conjunction with improved ratings in the easeof-doing-business index and an upgrade by the ratings agency Moody’s that are seen as recognition of India’s reforms. “The extraordinary support from the UN membership is reflective of the respect for strong constitutional integrity of the Indian polity and the independence of the judiciary in India,” MEA said in a statement.
The UK needed support from eight members of the security council to stall voting and instead go for a joint conference. But several council members, who otherwise might have voted for Britain’s candidate Greenwood, were opposed to the proposal as they agreed with India’s position that it was an “undemocratic” move which would only further complicate the process.
Also, for a joint conference to be formed, all 15 council members would have had to publicly endorse UK’s proposal, something which countries like the US and France, which regularly profess their friendship and strategic partnership with India, would have been averse to.
In the last round of UNGA voting, Bhandari had 121 votes and Greenwood only 68. In the final round of voting conducted after Greenwood’s withdrawal, Bhandari got 183 out of 193 votes in GA and all 15 votes in the council.
Greenwood, Bhandari’s rival, broke norms
The UK’s Christopher Greenwood was among 13 former and seven current ICJ judges who worked as “arbitrators” during their tenure despite the International Court of Justice (ICJ) statute prohibiting them from doing so, an investigative report has said.
The report, published by Canada-based International Institute for Sustainable Development (ISSD), said India’s Dalveer Bhandari, who recently defeated Greenwood for the last vacancy at ICJ, was not among these judges.
ICJ statute prohibits judges from engaging in “any other occupation of a professional nature”. This probably explains why Bhandari consistently received nearly two-thirds of the votes in the UN General Assembly, and Greenwood lagged far behind. Greenwood later withdrew from the race, paving the way for Bhandari’s re-election to ICJ.
“Justice Bhandari as a matter of conscious choice does not do any arbitration cases,” sources told PTI.
The study found Greenwood worked as an arbitrator in at least nine investment arbitration cases during his tenure at ICJ. He was paid more than $400,000 in fees in two of those nine cases. More than $1 million in fees was paid to ICJ judges in nine of the 90 such cases compiled by ISSD. ICJ president Ronny Abraham and five past presidents were among the 20 current and former judges who worked as arbitrators during their term.