Why Dalveer Bhandari's re-election to ICJ is matter of elation for New Delhi?

Why Dalveer Bhandari's re-election to ICJ is matter of elation for New Delhi?

Re-election of Justice Dalveer Bhandari to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Monday brought cheers to the government, which had reasons to believe that it showed India's rising  clout.

ICJ, which is based in the Hague, has five of its 15 judges elected every three years. This time, the contest was deadlocked. There were six candidates for five vacancies.

Britain's judge, Sir Christopher Greenwood, was hoping   re-election for a second nine-year term. He was backed by the all-powerful UN Security Council. Its permanent members -- the US, Russia, France, and China --supported Greenwood.

On the other hand, India's Dalveer Bhandari was contesting for a second term. New Delhi was rallying for support among the UN General Assembly member-countries.

Winning tally

A winning candidate needs majority support in the UN Security Council as well as the UN General Assembly.

Previously, four other candidates won easily in  earlier rounds of voting. In fact, Justice Bhandari lost the Asian seat to Lebanese lawyer-turned-diplomat Nawaf Salam, who had the backing of the powerful Organisation of Islamic Cooperation with 55 members in the UN.

So New Delhi lobbied hard for Justice Bhandari among the UN General Assembly members. This made the UK doubt  its ability to win more support.  After 11 rounds of voting spread over several days, Britain decided that it would rather withdraw from the poll than openly clash with India's candidature. But with a rather heavy heart. For the first time since 1946, the UK, which is a permanent UN Security Council member, will not have a judge on the ICJ.

The British media speculated that the UK chose to bow out to protect its economic interests with India. Officials in New Delhi did not deny that India leveraged on its growing economic clout and rise as an important power among the developing countries.

Crucial win

In any case, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government could not afford to lose this election when India faces Pakistan before the ICJ. New Delhi has challenged the death sentence awarded by a Pak military court to a former Indian Navy officer, Kulbhushan Jadhav. The next hearing is in December. Justice Bhandari's presence on the ICJ is an important factor.

Officials say Justice Bhandari's election alters balance in the ICJ and strengthens India's case for reforms in the UN system. India is now among the four Asian countries that is on the ICJ bench-- instead of the usual three. By this win, the UN General Assembly is shown to be more representative in character than the UN Security Council. India won against a P5 member by vote. In future, the clamour for changes in the world order is bound to grow,  add officials.

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