The 2023 International Court of Justice election was held on 9 November 2023 [1][2] at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City. In the set of triennial elections, the General Assembly and the Security Council concurrently elect five judges to the Court for nine-year terms.

Background

The International Court of Justice (ICJ), based in The Hague, is one of the principal organs of the United Nations. The court consists of 15 judges, with five judges elected every three years. In the case of death or other vacancy, a judge is elected for the remainder of the term. Judges are required to be independent and impartial; they may not exercise any political or administrative function, and do not act as a representative of their home state. Elections of members of the Court are governed by articles 2 through 15 of the Statute of the International Court of Justice.

In February 2024, the terms of five judges will expire: Joan Donoghue of the United States, currently the President of the Court; Kirill Gevorgian of Russia, currently the Vice-President of the Court; Mohamed Bennouna of Morocco; Patrick Robinson of Jamaica; and Hilary Charlesworth of Australia. Each is eligible for re-election.

Composition of the Court

Prior to the election, the composition of the Court is as follows:

Judge Term starts /
renewed
Term ends
Morocco Mohamed Bennouna 2006, 2015 2024
United States Joan Donoghue, President 2010,[3] 2015 2024
Jamaica Patrick Lipton Robinson 2015 2024
Russia Kirill Gevorgian, Vice-President 2015 2024
Australia Hilary Charlesworth 2021 [3] 2024
France Ronny Abraham 2005,[3] 2009, 2018 2027
Somalia Abdulqawi Yusuf 2009, 2018 2027
India Dalveer Bhandari 2012,[3] 2018 2027
Lebanon Nawaf Salam 2018 2027
Brazil Leonardo Nemer Caldeira Brant 2022 [3] 2027
Slovakia Peter Tomka 2003, 2012, 2021 2030
China Xue Hanqin 2010,[3] 2012, 2021 2030
Uganda Julia Sebutinde 2012, 2021 2030
Japan Yuji Iwasawa 2018,[3] 2021 2030
Germany Georg Nolte 2021 2030

Candidates

Qualifications

Article 2 of the Statute of the International Court of Justice provides that judges shall be elected "from among persons of high moral character, who possess the qualifications required in their respective countries for appointment to the highest judicial offices, or are jurisconsults of recognized competence in international law".

Nomination procedure

All States parties to the Statute of the ICJ have the right to propose candidates. Nominations of candidates for election to the ICJ are made by a group consisting of the members of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA), designated by that State.[4] For this purpose, members of the PCA act in "national groups" (i.e. all the PCA members from any individual state). (In the case of UN member states not represented in the PCA, the state in question may select up to four individuals to be its "national group" for the purpose of nominating candidates to the ICJ). Every such "national group" may nominate up to four candidates, not more than two of whom shall be of their own nationality. Before making these nominations, each "national group" is recommended to consult its highest court of justice, its legal faculties and schools of law, and its national academies and national sections of international academies devoted to the study of law.[4]

2023 nominees

The following candidates were nominated for the election (grouped according to the informal distribution of seats among United Nations Regional Groups): [5]

Regional group Vacancy Candidates Nominating national groups
Africa Morocco Mohamed Bennouna Zambia Chaloka Beyani Netherlands, Zambia
Egypt Ahmed Amin Fathallah Egypt
Democratic Republic of the Congo Antoine Mindua China, DR Congo
South Africa Dire Tladi Brazil, Finland, Latvia, Mexico, Portugal, Sierra Leone, South Africa
Eastern Europe Russia Kirill Gevorgian Romania Bogdan Aurescu Bulgaria, Estonia, Italy, Latvia, Netherlands, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Sweden
Russia Kirill Gevorgian Belarus, China, Russia
GRULAC Jamaica Patrick Lipton Robinson Mexico Juan Manuel Gómez Robledo Verduzco Australia, Brazil, Colombia, Denmark, Finland, France, Guatemala, Mexico, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, United States
WEOG United States Joan Donoghue United States Sarah Cleveland Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Brazil, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Czechia, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Guatemala, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Romania, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovenia, Somalia, Sweden, United Kingdom, United States
Australia Hilary Charlesworth Australia Hilary Charlesworth Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Guatemala, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, Poland, Republic of Korea, Romania, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovenia, Sweden, United Kingdom, United States

Procedure

ICJ judges are elected through parallel procedures at the General Assembly and the Security Council. To be elected, a candidate must obtain an absolute majority of votes both in the General Assembly and in the Security Council.

Each of the two bodies, independently from the other, has to determine five persons enjoying support of an absolute majority of its members. Currently, 97 votes constitute an absolute majority in the General Assembly and 8 votes constitute an absolute majority in the Security Council (with no distinction being made between permanent and non-permanent members of the Security Council).

If less than five persons obtain an absolute majority of votes after the first round of balloting, further rounds are held during the same meeting, involving only those candidates that have not obtained an absolute majority of votes. If more than five persons obtain an absolute majority of votes after the first round of balloting, further rounds are held during the same meeting, involving all candidates, until the number of candidates enjoying an absolute majority of votes, becomes five or less.

When five candidates have obtained the required majority in one of the organs, the president of that organ notifies the president of the other organ of the names of the five candidates. The president of the latter does not communicate such names to the members of that organ until that organ itself has given five candidates the required majority of votes.

After both the General Assembly and the Security Council have produced a list of five names that received an absolute majority of the votes, the two lists are compared. Any candidate appearing on both lists is elected. But if fewer than five candidates have been thus elected, the two organs proceed, again independently of one another, at a second meeting and, if necessary, a third meeting to elect candidates by further ballots for seats remaining vacant, the results again being compared after the required number of candidates have obtained an absolute majority in each organ.

According to the ICJ Statute, if after the third meeting, one or more seats still remain unfilled, the General Assembly and the Security Council may form a joint conference consisting of six members, three appointed by each organ. This joint conference may, by an absolute majority, agree upon one name for each seat still vacant and submit the name for the respective acceptance of the General Assembly and the Security Council. If the joint conference is unanimously agreed, it may submit the name of a person not included in the list of nominations, provided that candidate fulfills the required conditions of eligibility to be a judge on the ICJ. In practice, a joint conference has never been convened. Instead, the Assembly and the Council continued balloting in further meetings until the same candidate received an absolute majority of votes in both bodies (usually after the weaker candidate withdrew).

If the General Assembly and the Security Council ultimately are unable to fill one or more vacant seats, then the judges of the ICJ who have already been elected shall proceed to fill the vacant seats by selection from among those candidates who have obtained votes either in the General Assembly or in the Security Council. In the event of a tie vote among the judges, the eldest judge shall have a casting vote. This procedure has never been used.

Results

Candidate General Assembly
majority = 97
Security Council
majority = 8
Round 1
9 Nov 2023
Round 1
9 Nov 2023
Round 2
9 Nov 2023
Round 3
9 Nov 2023
Round 4
9 Nov 2023
Round 5
9 Nov 2023
Mexico Juan Manuel Gómez Robledo Verduzco 143 14 13 14 14 13
United States Sarah Cleveland 135 14 14 13 13 12
Romania Bogdan Aurescu 117 9 10 9 9 9
Australia Hilary Charlesworth 117 11 11 11 10 9
South Africa Dire Tladi 113 8 8 10 12 10
Egypt Ahmed Amin Fathallah 81 8 8 9 8 7
Zambia Chaloka Beyani 81 4 2 2 1 1
Russia Kirill Gevorgian 77 6 5 6 6 5
Democratic Republic of the Congo Antoine Kesia-Mbe Mindua 65 1 1 1 2 2

Sources:[6][7]

In parallel and independent voting conducted by secret ballot, the General Assembly (one round of voting) and the Security Council (five rounds of voting) elected Hilary Charlesworth (Australia); Juan Manuel Gómez Robledo Verduzco (Mexico); Bogdan Lucian Aurescu (Romania); Dire Tladi (South Africa); and Sarah Hull Cleveland (United States). Charlesworth was re-elected.[1]

Other candidates in the fray, who were not elected were Antoine Kesia-Mbe Mindua (Democratic Republic of the Congo); Ahmed Amin Fathalla (Egypt); Kirill Gevorgian (Russia); and Chaloka Beyani (Zambia).[1] Russia's Gevorgian lost out his post to Romania's Aurescu, marking the first time in history that the USSR/Russia would not be represented at the ICJ.[8]

References

  1. ^ a b c "Five judges elected to United Nations' top court". UN News. 9 November 2023. Retrieved 28 December 2023.
  2. ^ "Sixth Committee: Provisional Programme for the 78th session" (PDF). United Nations.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Elected to fill an occasional vacancy
  4. ^ a b "Members of the Court". Retrieved 16 April 2021.
  5. ^ "Election of members of the International Court of Justice: list of nominations by national groups" (PDF). United Nations.
  6. ^ "General Assembly Elects Five Judges to International Court of Justice | Meetings Coverage and Press Releases". www.un.org. UN News Centre. 9 November 2023. Retrieved 25 February 2024.
  7. ^ "Security Council Elects Five Judges to International Court of Justice after Five Rounds of Voting | Meetings Coverage and Press Releases". www.un.org. UN News Centre. 9 November 2023. Retrieved 25 February 2024.
  8. ^ "International Court of Justice will have no Russian judge for first time in history". Yahoo! News. 9 November 2023.