Uphill diplomatic efforts are on to get two votes swing in favour of Justice Dalveer Bhandari at the UN Security Council to edge out the contestant from Britain as the judge of International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Monday.
But the election processes also make Indian officials squirm about an “outdated structure” of the United Nations Security Council where a veto-wielding member enjoys more clout in the system. For the time being, it is India vs UK all the way as the battle turns out to be a matter of compelling need as well as prestige. India would like to see Justice Bhandari re-elected, as ICJ is hearing the case of Kulbushan Jadhav, a former Naval officer, sentenced to death on spying charges by a Pakistani military court. If UK’s candidate Christopher Greenwood gets defeated, it would be for the first time the ICJ would be without a British judge since 1946.
The Hague-based ICJ has 15 judges with a nine-year term, but five vacancies are up for elections once in three years. To ensure victory, a candidate has to win majority of 97 votes or more in the UN general assembly and also a majority of eight votes in the UN Security Council. After five rounds judges from France, Somalia, Brazil and Lebanon were elected and making the remaining slot a contest between Justice Bhandari and Greenwood, both seeking re-election.
In the last round, Justice Bhandari won 115 votes in General Assembly, but failed to secure just 6 votes in the 15-member Security Council. Greenwood won 9 votes in UNSC but managed only 76 votes in the General Assembly.
“Never was a member for a UN permanent member defeated in General Assembly in General Assembly in the fifth round of elections where UK managed just 76 votes and India 115. But sadly it’s not a level-playing filed in the UNSC where UK, a permanent member, enjoys considerable clout,” said an Indian official familiar with the developments.
Another official said “We have been trying and we are still at it. Going by the arithmetic of it, we need to swing two votes in the UNGA and holding on to our lead in UNGA. But a veto-wielding member has considerable clout than a non-permanent member.”
If this round also doesn’t throw a winner, one more will take place before other provisions in ICJ statues are resorted to.