New Delhi, Nov 21 (IANS) India on Tuesday lauded Britain for its decision to withdraw its candidate, which led to the re-election of Justice Dalveer Bhandari to the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
“The UK decided to withdraw its candidate after a closely fought electoral process,” the External Affairs Ministry said in a statement. “We appreciate the UK decision.”
The statement thanked “all those governments who supported India in this election”.
Justice Bhandari was re-elected to the ICJ 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.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday congratulated Bhandari saying: “His re-election is a proud moment for us.”
Following Bhandari’s election, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj tweeted: “Vande Mataram – India wins election.” She added: “Huge efforts by Team MEA.” She specifically complimented India’s Permanent Representative in the UN, Syed Akbaruddin.
Bhandari will start his term from February 2018.
Welcoming Justice Dalveer’s re-election to fill the fifth vacancy for the 2018-2027 term, the External Affairs Ministry statement mentioned that the Indian candidate 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 statement said.
“It may be recalled that the Indian National Group to the Permanent Court of Arbitration had renominated Judge Dalveer Bhandari as India’s national candidate in June 2017. The government of India has been supporting the campaign of Judge Bhandari through diplomatic efforts at different fora.”
Bhandari’s election upsets what has 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.
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