By DebbieH 21 Nov 2017 7 min read

No UK judge on International Court of Justice for the first time

The UK has withdrawn Sir Christopher Greenwood from an 11th round of voting for the final place on the bench of the International Court of Justice (ICJ). It’s the first time in the 71 year history of the ICJ, also known as the world court, that there hasn’t been a UK judge on the bench.

The letter announcing the withdrawal of the UK candidate stated that: “The UK has concluded that it is wrong to take up the valuable time of the security council and the UN general assembly with further rounds of elections”. The final spot will be taken by the Indian candidate, Dalveer Bhandari. The letter continued on to congratulate the Indian candidate and said that: “If the UK could not win in this run-off, then we are pleased that it is a close friend like India that has done so instead. We will continue to cooperate closely with India, here in the UN and globally”.

The 15 judges on the ICJ bench serve nine-year terms and are elected by the UN general assembly and the UN security council. A majority is required from both to secure a place on the bench and while Bhandari had secured a majority with the general assembly, the security council were in favour of Greenwood.

The Guardian described the outcome as a ‘humiliating blow to British international prestige and an acceptance of a diminished status in international affairs’. Following the decision to leave the European Union, the UK has been forced to realise that it no longer commands the position on the world stage that it once had. India, the world’s largest democracy with its growing economy, was seen by many as the more suitable choice.

There has reportedly been growing resentment over the power of the five permanent members of the Security Council from the General Assembly. The five permanent members are the UK, the United States, France, Russia, and China. The General Assembly is made up of representatives from all UN countries.


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