World court judge Dalveer Bhandari of India is facing a Lebanese diplomat in his re-election on Thursday when the UN General Assembly and the Security Council will hold separate ballots to elect five judges.
Bhandari was elected to the Hague-based International Court of Justice (ICJ) in 2012 to complete the remainder of the term of a retiring judge. He is now running for a full nine-year term.
Lebanon's Permanent Representive Nawaf Salam, a jurist-turned-diplomat, is contesting against him for the judgeship representing Asia.
Salam's candidacy was endorsed by the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation at its foreign ministers' meeting Tashkent last year.
There are six candidates left in the race for the five judgeships up for election this year after a Zambian candidate, Chaloka Beyani, withdrew from the race. The five candidates of the six remaining, who each get a majority of the votes in both the Assembly and the Council, will assume office next February. The permanent members of the Council cannot veto a candidate.
Besides Bhandari, ICJ President Ronny Abraham of France, Vice President Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf of Somalia, and Antonio Augusto Cancado Trindade of Brazil and Christopher Greenwood of Britain, whose terms end this year, are running for re-election.
Bhandari, who is strongly expected to win, is the only one facing a challenge.
By tradition jurists from the permanent members of the Security Council have a seat in the ICJ assuring British and French candidates of their election, and no one from their regions are challenging the Somali and Brazilian judges.
The court does not officially have regional quotas but its statutes also say that the judges should represent the "main forms of civilization" and the "principal legal systems of the world" and this has in practice given rise to a regional distribution system.
Bhandari is representing a swathe of Asia from the Middle East to the Far East along with judges from China and Japan.
He was elected to succeed Awn Shawkat Al-Khasawneh of Jordan and he defeated a candidate from the Philippines. Therefore, he will essentially be facing Salam who is also from the region.
The Indian Mission to the UN held a reception for him last month to meet the delegates who will be voting in the election.
While Bhandari also received nominations from Australia, Bangladesh, Colombia and Israel, Salam was nominated by Lebanon and France.
Bhandari, who is from Rajasthan, has been a Supreme Court judge and the Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court.
This year and last, India's candidates won two other 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 last November.
(Arul Louis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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