Shashi Tharoor calls for reform in ICJ election, accuses UK of stalling will of General Assembly

As India battles out against the United Kingdom to get its nominee elected as the judge of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), former United Nations diplomat and Congress leader Shashi Tharoor accused the UK, one of the permanent members of the Security Council, of stalling the will of the majority of the General Assembly and called for a reform within the UN organ.

“The election is no longer about the judge or the country he hails from but about the GA standing up against a member of a privileged club who has lost comprehensively among the Members at large but still leads 9-6 in the SC. UK trying to stall the will of the majority of the GA,” Tharoor said in a series of tweets.

His comments come in the wake of India failing to secure enough support from the United Nations Security Council, despite finishing far ahead, in comparison to UK, in the 193-member General Assembly in the previous round on Friday.

“This time a nominee of a Permanent member of the SC has failed to get an absolute majority of the GA, for the first time in a direct contest to a major UN organ. GA vote has turned into a protest against an unwarranted extension of privilege for 70+ years. P5 lost by 40votes!,” Tharoor said, adding that the voice of the GA has been ignored for too long.

The Thiruvananthapuram MP, who is also a renowned author, observed that judges to the world court must represent the majority of the UN membership and that “cosy” permanent members club at the SC cannot keep imposing its will. “Deeply entrenched interests of a tiny select group cannot be allowed to prevail in areas where such privileges are not based in law,” he said.

As per rules, a candidate must secure a majority of 97 votes or more in the General Assembly and also a majority of eight votes in the Security Council in order to get elected to the prestigious position. India faces a major stumbling block ahead of the upcoming round as UK is a permanent member in the SC and has a vote in the General Assembly.

“Decisions at the UN must reflect the voice of the majority of Members and cannot continue to be decided by a few states with long-held privileges. Only that kind of multilateralism will inspire confidence among the international community, especially the younger generation,” Tharoor opined, while calling on SC members to vote for India’s candidate.

“This is not about India or any single country. It is about the idea of justice, of equality & fairness. It is about the future we envisage for the United Nations & the conduct of multilateralism.  The time for reform is now. I call on SC members to vote for India’s candidate,” he continued.

Throwing weight behind the Indian candidature, Tharoor said, “Aside from these points of principle, India has always shouldered collective responsibilities w/our partners in our quest for a more just global order, Our ethos also leads us towards genuine & constructive rule-based multilateralism&peaceful settlement of disputes. Vote4 India!.”

The voting is on Monday and Bhandari’s re-election would assume significance as ICJ is hearing the case of Kulbhushan Jadhav, a former naval officer, sentenced to death on espionage charges by a Pakistani military court.

There had been five vacancies in the Hague-based ICJ, which has 15 judges with a nine-year term. Judges from France, Somalia, Brazil and Lebanon were elected on Friday and the tussle is now between Justice Bhandari and UK candidate Christopher Greenwood.

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