11 November 2020
Seventy-fifth Session, 24th Meeting (PM)

General Assembly Fails to Elect Five Judges for International Court of Justice

Meeting concurrently with the Security Council, the General Assembly today was unable to elect five judges from an initial pool of eight candidates to the International Court of Justice for terms of nine years beginning 6 February 2021.

As more than five candidates received the absolute majority of votes required after a first round of voting by secret ballot, the Assembly will hold another round of voting Thursday, 12 November, to be continued until only the required number of candidates, and no more, obtain an absolute majority.

Four of the candidates are incumbent members of the Court.  They are Xue Hanqin (China), the Court’s Vice-President; Peter Tomka (Slovakia); Julia Sebutinde (Uganda); and Yuji Iwasawa (Japan).

Prior to voting, Member States had before them a memorandum by the Secretary‑General (document A/75/130) detailing the Court’s current composition and the procedure to be followed in the Assembly and the Council with regard to the election; a list of candidates nominated by national groups (document A/75/129); and the curricula vitae of the candidates (document A/75/131).

The Court’s justices are elected by obtaining an absolute majority of votes in both the Assembly and the Council, without regard to their nationality, from among persons of high moral character around the world.  Each must have the qualifications required in his or her respective country for appointment to the highest judicial office or is a jurisconsult of recognized competencies in international law.  No two judges may be from the same country, and they may not engage in any other occupation during their term of office.

As the principal judicial organ of the United Nations, the International Court of Justice, based in The Hague, 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 remaining 10 judges sitting on the Court, whose terms expire either in 2024 or 2027, are its President, Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf (Somalia); Ronny Abraham (France); Mohamed Bennouna (Morocco); Antônio Augusto Cançado Trindade (Brazil); Joan E. Donoghue (United States); Dalveer Bhandari (India); Patrick Lipton Robinson (Jamaica); James Richard Crawford (Australia); Kirill Gevorgian (Russian Federation); and Nawaf Salam (Lebanon).

The Assembly will reconvene at 11 a.m. on Thursday, 12 November, to continue its election of members of the International Court of Justice, concurrently with the Security Council.

First Round

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

Number of ballot papers:


Number of invalid ballots:


Number of valid ballots:




Number of Members voting:


Required majority:


Number of votes obtained:


Iwasawa, Yuji (Japan)


Nolte, Georg (Germany)


Xue, Hanqin (China)


Tomka, Peter (Slovakia)


Sebutinde, Julia (Uganda)


Ugirashebuja, Emmanuel (Rwanda)


Seršić, Maja (Croatia)


Elias, Taoheed Olufemi (Nigeria)


As more than five candidates had received the absolute majority of votes required, the Assembly began another round of voting, to be continued until only the required number of candidates, and no more, obtained an absolute majority.

For information media. Not an official record.