India still in the hunt for crucial International Court of Justice seat | world-news | Hindustan Times
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India still in the hunt for crucial International Court of Justice seat

To win, a candidate must secure an absolute majority in the UN General Assembly and the Security Council, which will vote concurrently but not independently.

world Updated: Nov 13, 2017 23:18 IST
Yashwant Raj
The judges’ panel during the Kulbhushan Jadhav case on May 18, 2017.
The judges’ panel during the Kulbhushan Jadhav case on May 18, 2017.(AFP File)

After a weekend of hectic diplomatic lobbying, India is still in the hunt for votes to install Dalveer Bhandari in the International Court of Justice for a second term, ahead of a crucial decision on the fate of Kulbhushan Jadhav, sentenced to death by Pakistan on for alleged involvement in espionage.

“The prediction of the elections is not an exact science,” an Indian diplomat said hours before the UN General Assembly and the Security Council start a final round of voting to pick either Bhandari or Britain’s Christopher Greenwood.

The Hague-based ICJ has 15 judges. Six candidates were in the fray for five seats up for election this month. Four of them — Ronny Abraham of France, Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf of Somalia, Antonio Augusto Cancado Trindade of Brazil, and Nawaf Salam of Lebanon — were elected last week.

To win, a candidate must secure an absolute majority in the General Assembly and the Security Council, which will vote concurrently but not independently. And it’s hard to fathom who is voting for whom — voting is by secret ballot.

The General Assembly was easy for India, getting 115 votes in the final round last week, way past the cut-off mark of 97. But the Security Council, of which Britain is a permanent member, was a tougher proposition. Greenwood won nine of the 15 votes, securing a rock-solid majority, while Bhandari fell short by two votes to secure the seat.

If Bhandari fails to get elected, India will be at a disadvantage when Jadhav’s case comes up for hearing in December. The ICJ has stayed Jadhav’s execution till it gives its ruling on India’s application to set aside his death sentence.

Meanwhile, Britain, which has seen its global influence shrink steadily over the decades, needs a win — a British judge has always been in the court since 1946. “Losing a British presence on the court would be an international political embarrassment,” The Guardian said in a report.