It may not be a cakewalk for Justice Dalveer Bhandari in the April 27 election for the post of Judge of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), as the Philippines has also fielded its candidate.
When the Indian National group on the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) nominated the Supreme Court judge for the post for a six-year term, it was expected that he would be elected unopposed to fill the casual vacancy in Asia caused by the resignation of Awn Shawkat Al-Khasawneh from Jordan in October 2011. Jordan also supported Justice Bhandari's candidature.
However, a contest has become necessary since the Philippines has put up 84-year-old Justice Florentino P. Feliciano. The election will be held in New York. As per Article 8 of the ICJ statute, “the General Assembly and the Security Council shall proceed independently of one another to elect a judge of the ICJ.”
The candidate who gets absolute majority in both the General Assembly (97 votes) and the Security Council (8 votes) will be declared elected. If none gets a majority in the first round of voting, subsequent rounds will determine the winner, who will be appointed for six years. He is eligible for re-election at the end of the tenure.
Principal judicial organ
The ICJ is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations. It consists of 15 judges — three each for Africa and Asia, two each for Latin America and Eastern Europe, and five for Western Europe and other states. They serve for nine years. At present, among the 15 judges on the Bench of ICJ, two representatives from Asia are Hisashi Owada from Japan, who is also the president, and Xue Hanqin from China.
Justice Bhandari (64) has vast experience in international law and is familiar with the working of the U.N. organisations. He is due to retire in September this year. Canvassing support for the Indian candidate is on.
The Philippines nominee is a former Member and Chairman, Appellate Body, World Trade Organisation, and specialist in international arbitration. While in the Supreme Court of the Philippines, he decided numerous cases involving commercial law and tax law issues, including on control and recognition of domestic and foreign arbitral awards, and commercial arbitration.
After its success in putting its Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago in the International Criminal Court, the Philippines is now keen on the election of Justice Feliciano to the ICJ.
In the past, Sir Benegal Rau (1950s), Dr. Nagendra Singh (1970-80s) and Justice R.S. Pathak (1988-90), former Chief Justice of India, served as ICI judges. Two persons served as ad hoc judges: M.C. Chagla in a dispute with Portugal in the 1950s and Jeevan Reddy in a dispute with Pakistan in 2002.
Most of the sitting or past judges of the ICJ were law professors or diplomats.