With Kulbhushan trial in international court, India desperate to be elected at ICJ

November 11, 2017

NEW DELHI: With Kulbhushan trial in International Court, the Indian government is putting “all efforts in” to ensure the election of its nominee Judge Dalveer Bhandari for the International Court of Justice.

Officials said on Saturday that India failed to secure enough support in the first few rounds of voting for the court where the Kulbhushan Jadhav case is being heard.

The next round of voting will be on Monday, when Mr. Bhandari will face off with the United Kingdom candidate Christopher Greenwood, who also lost in the vote, in what is being described as a close contest. While India finished far ahead in the 193-member United Nations General Assembly, Britain got more votes in the United Nations Security Council.

The judges who won were from France, Somalia, Brazil and Lebanon, which was India’s rival in the Asia bloc.

If the next round of voting proves inconclusive, the U.N. would hold a “joint conference” made up of members from both the Assembly and the Council, after which the elected judges may be asked to decide.

“In the Security Council, the permanent members (U.K., U.S., France, China and Russia) have disproportionate influence. So that is an issue. But in the General Assembly, we have a handsome lead,” a senior MEA official told The Hindu. Another official said the government, including MEA officials in Delhi and at the U.N. in New York, will be working the phones “over the weekend” to bring more members of the U.N. Security Council around.

To be elected, any candidate must obtain a majority of 97 votes or more in the UN general assembly and also a majority of eight votes in the Security Council. During the last unsuccessful round, India won 115 to U.K.’s 74 votes in the UNGA, but won only six out of 15 U.N. Security Council members, while U.K. won 9. India’s task is made more difficult, given the U.K. is a permanent member and has a vote in both the UNSC and the UNGA.

As a result, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had himself taken up the issue of support with countries that he has held bilateral meetings with since June this year, when India declared its nomination bid.

When asked if PM Modi would himself make calls in the next few days, an official said “all efforts will be put in”. “It depends on how many of the U.N. Security Council members we manage to bring over to our side over the weekend,” the official added.

India has a particular interest in the ICJ spot, given the trial of Kulbhushan Jadhav, the man convicted of spying in Pakistan, which is now in the international court at The Hague. In October, Pakistan nominated an ad-hoc judge Tassaduq Hussain Jillani according to ICJ rules to sit on the bench.