Justice Bhandari’s ICJ reelection: India thanks diplomatic community

New Delhi: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Saturday expressed India’s gratitude to the international diplomatic community based here for helping get Indian candidate Justice Dalveer Bhandari re-elected to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) at The Hague.

Stating that it was a historic moment, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar tweeted that Sushma Swaraj, addressing the diplomatic corps here, “conveyed gratitude to the international diplomatic community for their support for election of Justice Dalveer Bhandari to ICJ”.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday congratulated Bhandari saying: “His re-election is a proud moment for us”.

Congratulating the efforts of the External Affairs Ministry officers, Sushma Swaraj specifically complimented India’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Syed Akbaruddin.

Bhandari will start his term from February 2018. He received all 15 votes in the UN Security Council and 183 out of the 193 votes in the UN General Assembly.

“The extraordinary support from the UN membership is reflective of the respect for strong constitutional integrity of the Indian polity and the independence of the judiciary in India,” the External Affairs Ministry said in a statement following the reelection.

Bhandari’s election upset what had become a traditional balance in the ICJ. Besides a permanent member going unrepresented, four Asian countries will be represented on the ICJ bench instead of the usual three.

Three incumbent judges of the ICJ — President Ronny Abraham of France, Vice President Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf of Somalia and Antonio Augusto Cancado Trindade of Brazil — were elected in the first four rounds of voting on November 9.

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 UN members.

He got a second chance only because an unpopular Britain could not get an Assembly majority for a remaining judgeship requiring a runoff where the two chambers of the UN split in their voting.

Justice Bhandari was reelected on Monday after the UN General Assembly rallied behind him in a show of strength that made Britain bow to the majority and withdraw its candidate Christopher Greenwood.

India lauded Britain’s decision.