Four prominent jurists were elected today – with one re-elected – to serve on the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the United Nations' principal judicial organ for settling disputes between countries, for a term of nine years beginning on 6 February 2006.
Emerging from six rounds of voting which were needed today to obtain the required absolute majority in both the Security Council and the General Assembly, the new judges are: Mohamed Bennouna of Morocco; Kenneth Keith of New Zealand; Bernardo Sepúlveda Amor of Mexico; and Leonid Skotnikov of the Russian Federation. Thomas Buergenthal of the United States, whose term was due to expire on 5 February 2006, was re-elected for a second term.
The judges were chosen in separate balloting conducted concurrently by both bodies, as required by the Court's statute. They will fill vacancies left when the following additional tenures expire in February: Nabil Elaraby of Egypt; Pieter H. Kooijmans of the Netherlands; Francisco Rezek of Brazil; and Vladlen S. Vereshchetin of the Russian Federation.
Other members on the 15-member Court include the following, whose terms expire on 5 February of the year in parenthesis: Ronny Abraham of France (2009); Awn Shawkat Al-Khasawneh of Jordan (2009); Rosalyn Higgins of the United Kingdom (2009); Shi Jiuyong of China (2012); Abdul G. Koroma of Sierra Leone (2012); Hisashi Owada of Japan (2012); Gonzalo Parra-Aranguren of Venezuela (2009); Raymond Ranjeva of Madagascar (2009); Bruno Simma of Germany (2012); and Peter Tomka of Slovakia (2012).
The Court is located in The Hague and in addition to adjudicating disputes between States, it gives advisory opinions to the United Nations and the specialized agencies when requested to do so. Its jurisdiction covers all matters provided for in the Charter or in treaties and conventions in force.
Judges 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. They cannot engage in any other occupation during their term of office.