9 September 2010
General Assembly

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-fourth General Assembly


118th Meeting (AM)

General Assembly Elects Joan E. Donoghue of United States to International Court


of Justice, in Tandem with Security Council, to Serve until 5 February 2015

In one round of balloting today, the General Assembly elected Joan Donoghue of the United States as a member of the International Court of Justice, in an election run independently of, but concurrently with, the Security Council.

Ms. Donoghue, will fill the remainder of the term of Judge Thomas Buergenthal of the United States, whose resignation took effect 6 September 2010.  A member of the Court since 2 March 2000 and re-elected 6 February 2006, Judge Buergenthal’s term of office would have expired on 5 February 2015.

Ms. Donoghue currently serves as Principal Deputy Legal Advisor in the United States Department of State.  Her duties in that position have included advising the Secretary of State and the President on all aspects of international law, as well as advising on the drafting, negotiation and implementation of resolutions of the Security Council, General Assembly and other United Nations bodies.  (For more information, please see document A/64/901-S/2010/444.)

Taking account of Mr. Buergenthal’s resignation, the Court is now composed of President Hisashi Owada ( Japan) and Vice-President Peter Tomka ( Slovakia), whose terms of office expire on 5 February 2012.  Its Judges are Ronny Abraham (France), Awn Shawkat Al-Khasawneh (Jordan), Mohamed Bennouna ( Morocco), Antônio Augusto Cançado Trindade ( Brazil), Christopher Greenwood ( United Kingdom), Kenneth Keith ( New Zealand), Abdul G. Koroma ( Sierra Leone), Bernardo Sepúlveda-Amor ( Mexico), Bruno Simma ( Germany), Leonid Skotnikov ( Russian Federation) and Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf ( Somalia).

According to the rules of procedure, members of the International Court are elected by both the General Assembly and Security Council, acting independently of one another.  When a candidate has obtained the required majority in one of the organs, the President of that organ notifies the President of the other of that result.  If the result is different, the Assembly and Council continue voting, up to three times if necessary, until both bodies have given an absolute majority of votes to the same candidate.

If, after the third meeting, the vacancy still remains unfilled, Member States may resort to a special procedure set out in the Statute of the Court, at the request of either the Assembly or the Council.

Speaking in a point of order after the election, Iran’s representative said that articles 2 and 9 of the Court’s statute provided criteria for electing qualified candidates and any practice that that would grant special privilege to certain States was not acceptable.

Voting Results

The results of the one round of voting were as follows:

Number of ballot papers:


Number of invalid ballots:


Number of valid ballots:




Number of Members present and voting:


Absolute majority:


Number of individual votes obtained:

Joan Donoghue


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For information media • not an official record