How India Beat UK For Major Win At World Court (ICJ)

Judge Dalveer Bhandari

India has scored a major diplomatic victory with its nominee, Justice Dalveer Bhandari, re-elected to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) after a protracted battle that eventually prompted the United Kingdom to bow out of the contest just ahead of a crucial 12th round of voting at the UN headquarters in NY on Monday. President Ram Nath Kovind congratulated Justice Dalveer Bhandari on his re-election to the International Court of Justice. Britain had even toyed with the idea of a rarely-used mechanism of a joint meeting of the Security Council and General Assembly to break the continuing deadlock in the election, where a candidate needs a majority in both the UNGA and UNSC to win a place in ICJ. He will start his 9-year term from February 2018.

Bhandari's election was a dramatic face-saving turn of fortunes for India as he lost the Asian seat on the ICJ to Lebanese lawyer-turned-diplomat Nawaf Salam, who had been campaigning for two years and had the backing of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation with 55 United Nations members. The withdrawal of its candidate by Britain, which had the backing of its fellow permanent members, was a setback for the Security Council that had been locked in a test of wills with the Assembly.

Justice Bhandari's win saw India pull out all stops to ensure his victory, with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj herself contacting nearly 100 of her counterparts, mostly from African and Latin American countries.

In the 11 rounds of voting, Bhandari had got almost two-thirds of the votes in the General Assembly and in Security Council Greenwood consistently received nine votes as against five for his opponent.

The ICJ is hearing India's plea against the death sentence awarded to former naval officer Kulbhushan Jadhav by a Pakistani military court. "If the UK could not win in this run-off, then we are pleased that it is a close friend like India that has done so instead", Matthew Rycroft, Britain's Permanent Representative to the United Nations, said in a statement.

Judge Dalveer Bhandari with India’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Syed Akbaruddin and other members
Judge Dalveer Bhandari with India’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Syed Akbaruddin and other members

"A vote that brings cheer to a billion India's nominee Judge Bhandari re-elected to ICJ", India's ambassador/permanent representative Syed Akbaruddin broke the news on Twitter as soon as the result were announced. He also sought support from BRICS leaders during the summit in Xiamen, China, and then raised the issue again during his bilateral trip to Myanmar, while calling for a just worldwide order.

Speaking to the media, Sharma said, "We are happy that India's candidate Justice Dalveer Bhandari has finally managed to get a second term to ICJ".

When asked what it symbolises for British diplomacy, he added: "It has been the long-standing objective of UK foreign policy to support India in the United Nations".

This is the first time in 71 years that United Kingdom will not have a judge on the bench of the ICJ.

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