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World court judge Bhandari's re-election hits deadlock (Lead, With Images)

IANS  |  United Nations 

World judge Dalveer Bhandari could not win re-after several rounds of separate balloting by the Security Council and the General Assembly on Thursday and his fate now depends on a vote set for Monday.

In an unusual development he is locked in a run-off with a fellow judge, Christopher Greenwood of Britain, when balloting resumes.

In the voting held to elect five judges, four other candidates won the absolute majorities in both the chambers that is required for after four rounds in the Council and five in Assembly.

They are three incumbent judges of the Hague-based International of Justice (ICJ) -- President Ronny Abraham of France, Vice President Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf of Somalia, Antonio Augusto Cancado Trindade of Brazil - and a lawyer-turned-diplomat, Nawaf Salam of Lebanon.

The fifth Council and sixth Assembly voting rounds, which were run-offs between Bhandari and Greenwood resulted in a deadlock: Bhandari won in the Assembly and Greenwood in the Council.

Bhandari consistently did better in the Assembly, but stumbled in the Council.

In the final Assembly round, he received 115 votes to Greenwood's 76. In the last round in the Council, Bhandari received six votes and the Briton nine.

Traditionally judges from each of the five permanent members of the Security Council are elected, but this time in a set back to Britain its candidate was left struggling against a non-permanent member.

In contrast, France's Abraham consistently won the most votes in the Assembly and all the 15 votes in the Council.

It was also a set back for India which was unable to mobilise enough support, especially in the Council.

The started out looking like a contest between Bhandari and Salam for a seat traditionally held by an Asian country. Salam made it leaving India behind.

Salam was able to mount a tough challenge because his candidacy was endorsed by the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) at its Foreign Ministers' meeting in Tashkent in October 2016, and he has been at the UN for a decade as Lebanon's Permanent Representative cultivating contacts.

India filed Bhandari's nomination only on June 19 after reportedly looking at other candidates, whereas Salam's candidacy was known more than a year ago.

Lebanon and his other backers had a long-term strategy that got him the backing of OIC, which has 56 members in the UN, and many others, including France, which also nominated him.

The does not officially have regional quotas but its statutes also say that the judges should represent the "main forms of civilisation" and the "principal legal systems of the world" and this has in practice given rise to a regional distribution system.

Bhandari is currently representing a swathe of Asia from the Middle East to the Far East on the bench along with judges from China and Japan.

He was elected in 2012 to succeed Awn Shawkat Al-Khasawneh of Jordan and he defeated a candidate from the Philippines. Therefore, he was essentially facing Salam who is also from the region.

If Bhandari wins next week the traditional balance in the court will be upset in two ways.

There will be four Asian judges instead of the usual three and a permanent member of the Council, Britain, won't be represented.

In the first round of voting in the Assembly, Bhandari received 149 votes, the third highest. But by the fifth round he had slipped to the fifth place with 118 votes.

He was tied for the fourth place in the Council's first round with 11 votes and slipped to seven by the fourth round.

India, however, did well this year and last in international election in the legal field. In June, Neeru Chadha was elected to International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) based in Hamburg, Germany.

Aniruddha Rajput was elected by the UN General Assembly to the International Law Commission in November 2016.

(Arul Louis can be reached at



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First Published: Fri, November 10 2017. 13:02 IST