21/10/2002
Press Release
GA/10087



Fifty-seventh General Assembly

Plenary

35th Meeting (AM)


GENERAL ASSEMBLY, CONCURRENTLY WITH SECURITY COUNCIL, ELECTS


FIVE MEMBERS TO INTERNATIONAL COURT OF JUSTICE


Judges -- Three New, Two Re-Elected -– Will Serve Nine-year Terms


The General Assembly this morning elected five judges to the International Court of Justice in one round of balloting, filling vacancies for terms of office that will expire on 5 February 2003.


Hisashi Owada (Japan), Bruno Simma (Germany), and Peter Tomka (Slovakia) will sit at the Court for the first time.  Shi Jiuyong (China) and Abdul G. Koroma (Sierra Leone) were re-elected.  All five will begin their new nine-year terms on 6 February 2003. 


The election in the Assembly this morning was held concurrently with one in the Security Council.  The Council also required one round of secret balloting, by the end of which the same five judges had obtained the required absolute majority. 


The International Court of Justice, with its headquarters in The Hague, Netherlands, consists of 15 judges who were elected, regardless of their nationality, from among persons of high moral character, who possess qualifications required in their respective countries for appointment to the highest judicial offices, or are juriconsults of recognized competence in international law.  The Court is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations. 


As of 5 February 2003, the remaining 10 judges at the Court whose terms of office are still valid (with the dates that their terms expire) will be:  Gilbert Guillaume (France) (2009), President; Raymond Ranjeva (Madagascar) (2009); Vladlen S. Vereshchetin (Russian Federation) (2006); Rosalyn Higgins (United Kingdom) (2009); Gonzalo Parra-Aranguren (Venezuela) (2009); Pieter H. Kooijmans (Netherlands) (2006); Jose Francisco Rezek (Brazil) (2006); Awn Shawkat Al-Khasawneh (Jordan) (2009); Thomas Buergenthal (United States) (2006); and Nabil Elaraby (Egypt) (2006).


The Assembly will meet again at 10 a.m. on Monday, 28 October, to consider the reports of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.


Background


The General Assembly met this morning, concurrently with Security Council, to elect five judges to the International Court of Justice for a term of nine years, beginning on 6 February 2003, in conformity with Articles 4 and 13 of the Statute of the Court.


The terms of office of the following five members of the Court will expire on 5 February 2003:  Shi Jiuyong (China); Shigeru Oda (Japan); Geza Herczegh (Hungary); Carl-August Fleischhauer (Germany); and Abdul G. Koroma (Sierra Leone). 


The International Court of Justice, based at The Hague, Netherlands, is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations.  It settles legal disputes between States Parties and gives advisory opinions to the Organization and its specialized agencies.  The Court is open to all parties to its Statute, which automatically includes all Members of the United Nations. 


The Court’s jurisdiction covers all questions referred to it by States, and all matters provided for in the Charter or in treaties or conventions in force.  It consists of 15 judges elected by the Council and the Assembly, voting independently.  They are chosen on the basis of their qualifications, not on the basis of nationality, and care is taken to ensure that the principle legal systems of the world are represented.  No two judges can be from the same country.  Judges serve for a nine-year term and may be re-elected.  They cannot engage in any other occupation during their term of office.


Candidates for election as judges are:  Hans Corell (Sweden); Vojin Dimitrijevic (Federal Republic of Yugoslavia); John Dugard (South Africa); Walter J. Kamba (Zimbabwe); Arthur J. Manase (Zimbabwe); Hisashi Owada (Japan); Bruno Simma (Germany); and Peter Tomka (Slovakia).  Candidates for re-election are Shi Jiuyong (China) and Abdul G. Koroma (Sierra Leone).  (See document A/57/306-S/2002/926)


Article 4 of the Court’s Statute provides that members of the Court shall be elected by the Security Council and the General Assembly from a list of persons nominated by the national groups in the Permanent Court of Arbitration.


The curricula vitae of the candidates nominated by the national groups are contained in a note by the Secretary-General (document A/57/307-S/2002/927).


Mr. Corell, currently Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs and Legal Counsel of the United Nations, was nominated by the national group of Denmark, Finland, Guatemala, Iceland, Netherlands, Norway and Sweden. 


Mr. Dimitrijevic, President of the Yugoslav Association of International Law and Member of the Permanent Court of Arbitration, was nominated by the national group of Belgium, Sweden and Yugoslavia. 


John Dugard, Member of the International Law Commission and Honorary Professor at the University of the Western Cape, was nominated by the national group of Australia, Netherlands, South Africa and Sweden.


Walter J. Kamba, the Herbert Chitepo UNESCO Professor of Human Rights, Democracy, Peace and Governance at the University of Zimbabwe, was nominated by the national group of Zimbabwe.

Arthur J. Manase, Executive Dean of the Law Faculty at the University of Zimbabwe, was nominated by the national group of Zimbabwwe.


Hisashi Owada, judge of the Japanese National Group in the Permanent Court of Arbitration, was nominated by the national group of Australia, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Denmark, Ecuador, Egypt, Finland, France, Greece, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Iceland, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Norway, Paraguay, Poland, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Singapore, Spain, Sri Lanka, Thailand, United Kingdom, United States and Uruguay.


Bruno Simma, member of the International Law Commission, was nominated by the national group of Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Russian Federation, Switzerland and Uruguay.


Peter Tomka, Slovakia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, was nominated by the national group of Austria, Finland, France, Iceland, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Slovakia and Uruguay.


Shi Jiuyong, currently the Vice-President of the Court, was nominated by the national group of Argentina, Australia, Austria, China, Colombia, Denmark, France, Greece, Japan, Norway, Pakistan, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, United Kingdom, United States and Uruguay.


Abdul G. Koroma, currently serving as a judge of the Court, was nominated by the national group of Algeria, Belgium, Colombia, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Poland, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Spain and United Kingdom.


Judges whose terms of office have not expired and who remain on the Court are:  Gilbert Guillaume (France), President; Raymond Ranjeva (Madagascar); Vladlen S. Vereshchetin (Russian Federation); Rosalyn Higgins (United Kingdom); Gonzalo Parra-Aranguren (Venezuela); Pieter H. Kooijmans (Netherlands); Jose Francisco Rezek (Brazil); Awn Shawkat Al-Khasawneh (Jordan); Thomas Buergenthal (United States); and Nabil Elaraby (Egypt).  Their terms of office will expire on

5 February 2006 and 2009. 


A memorandum by the Secretary-General (document A/57/305-S/2002/925) describes the procedure for the election of judges in the Council and the Assembly.  It states that on the date of the election, those candidates who obtain an absolute majority of votes both in the Council and in the Assembly will be considered elected.  In the Council, eight votes constitute an absolute majority and no distinction is made between permanent and non-permanent members.  The electors in the Assembly are all 191 Member States and, thus, 96 votes constitute an absolute majority.


If in the first ballot in either organ the number of candidates obtaining an absolute majority is less than five, a second ballot will be held.  Balloting will continue until five candidates have obtained the required majority.  Only when five candidates have obtained the required majority in one of the organs does the President of that body notify the President of the other as to the names of the five candidates.  The President of the latter should not communicate such names to the members of that organ until that organ has itself given five candidates the required majority of votes. 

If, upon comparison of the respective lists of names that have obtained an absolute majority in the two organs, fewer than five candidates have been elected, the Assembly and the Council will proceed, again independently of each other, “in a second meeting and, if necessary, a third meeting to elect candidates by further ballots for seats remaining vacant”.  The results will again be compared after the required number of candidates have obtained an absolute majority in each organ. 


If, however, after the third meeting, one or more seats still have to be filled, the Assembly and the Council may at any time, at each other’s request, form a joint conference consisting of six members from each organ.  That conference may, by an absolute majority, agree on one name for each seat still vacant and submit that name for the respective acceptance of both organs. 


The memorandum concludes:  “If the joint conference is satisfied that it will not be successful in procuring an election, those members of the Court who have already been elected shall, within a period to be fixed by the Council, proceed to fill the vacant seat or seats by selection from among those candidates who have obtained votes either in the Assembly or in the Council”.  In the event of an equality of votes among the judges, the eldest shall have a casting vote.


Assembly Action


Before the election began, the Assembly was informed that Walter Kamba and Arthur Manase no longer wished to be considered as candidates.


Election of Judges


The results of the first round of balloting were as follows:


Number of ballot papers            183

Number of invalid ballots                   0

Number of valid ballots                 183

Abstentions                     0

Number of members voting      183

Required majority                  96


Number of votes obtained


Hisashi Owada                 169

Shi Jiuyong                       167

Peter Tomka             149

Abdul Koroma            134

Bruno Simma             123

Hans Corell                  94

John Dugard                  43  

Vojin Dimitrijevic                                    25


The following candidates had obtained an absolute majority in the Assembly: Hisashi Owada, Shi Jiuyong, Peter Tomka, Abdul Koroma and Bruno Simma.


The President informed members that he had received a letter from the President of the Security Council informing him that Hisashi Owada, Shi Jiuyong, Peter Tomka, Abdul Koroma and Bruno Simma had obtained an absolute majority in the voting conducted by the Council.

Having received an absolute majority in both the Assembly and the Council, Hisashi Owada, Peter Tomka and Bruno Simma were elected and Shi Jiuyong and Abdul Koroma were re-elected to serve nine-year terms as judges on the International Court of Justice beginning on 6 February 2003.


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