ICJ run-off vote deadlocked

New Delhi: India's bid to have Justice Dalveer Bhandari re-elected to the International Court of Justice remained unfulfilled on Monday, when neither he nor his British opponent was able to muster the required majority in both the United Nations Security Council and the General Assembly.

Judges are elected to the ICJ only if they win a majority each in the Security Council and the General Assembly during simultaneous voting.

Justice Bhandari and Sir Christopher Greenwood had faced each other in a run-off on Monday after both fell short of double majorities during Thursday's election, when four other candidates were elected. Five of the court's 15 seats were up for grabs.

As on Thursday, Greenwood bagged a majority in the Security Council, of which the UK is a permanent member, but fell short in the General Assembly, where Justice Bhandari held sway.

Although India improved its lead in the General Assembly in successive rounds of voting on Monday, Greenwood held on to his nine votes in the Security Council where Bhandari got only five in each of the five rounds of voting.

India, which received 121 votes in the General Assembly in Monday's final round, is hoping to improve to a two-thirds majority in the 193-member body to try and put moral pressure on the British to withdraw from the contest.

But although Indian diplomats are lobbying with other General Assembly members for more votes, they realise that a British withdrawal is a far-fetched idea since the country has always held a berth in the world court since its inception in 1946.

The next meeting is yet to be scheduled and may take a fortnight since the Security ouncil and the General Assembly are tied up till November end.

If a stalemate continues after three meetings to elect judges, a joint conference of six members -- three appointed by the Security Council and three by the General Assembly --- can be formed on a request from either body.

Officials say this clause has never been invoked as it entails equating the General Assembly with the Security Council, something the latter -- especially the five permanent members -- is loath to do amid calls for reforms that would open up this high table.

To try and push towards this, Congress MP and former UN undersecretary-general Shashi Tharoor whipped up a storm on Monday evening with seven tweets before the voting.

The substance of his tweets, in his words, was: "The cosy permanent members club at the SC (Security Council) cannot keep getting its way. Decisions at the UN must reflect the voice of the majority of members & cannot continue to be decided by a few states with long-held privileges. Only that kind of multi-lateralism will inspire confidence among the international community, especially the younger generation."


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