Ter­rific win for In­dia in In­ter­na­tional Court of Jus­tice

Re­elec­tion of Jus­tice Dalveer Bhan­dari in the ICJ by de­feat­ing the UK can­di­date shows In­dia’s su­perb progress In­ter­na­tion­ally and a mes­sage for fu­ture.

Alive - - Content - By San­jeev Sirohi

What a ter­rific win it was for In­dia! All of a sud­den it was In­dia who was grab­bing all in­ter­na­tional head­lines in all news­pa­pers and news chan­nels all over the world. All In­di­ans felt on top of the world to see how In­dia man­aged to shine par ex­cel­lence and even left be­hind the UK.

In­dia’s scor­ing a ma­jor diplo­matic vic­tory to the In­ter­na­tional Court of Jus­tice (ICJ) as its nom­i­nee Dalveer Bhan­dari who is a for­mer Judge of the Supreme Court and who is about to com­plete his 9 years term as an ICJ Judge in his first term which started from 2007 was once again re-elected for an­other 9 years term with a con­vinc­ing mar­gin of more than two-third mem­bers back­ing him after the UK de­cided to with­drew its can­di­date Christo­pher Green­wood from the race in the 12th round as it knew that the de­feat of its

can­di­date was cer­tain.

In hind­sight, Jus­tice Bhan­dari has al­ways en­joyed an im­pec­ca­ble and un­blem­ished rep­u­ta­tion through­out his ca­reer as a Judge. While he was the Chief Jus­tice of Mumbai High Court, his ten­ure was known for his or­der which led to more al­lo­ca­tion of funds for mal­nour­ished chil­dren in the most de­prived re­gions of Ma­ha­rash­tra. He is a

Padma Bhushan re­cip­i­ent him­self and hails from a fam­ily of le­gal per­son­al­i­ties and has been part of the ju­di­ciary of In­dia since the early 1970s.

He was el­e­vated as a se­nior Judge of the Supreme Court of In­dia on Oc­to­ber 28, 2005. His judg­ments on so­cio-eco­nomic cases dis­tin­guished him from the other Judges. His or­ders in the Supreme Court left a mark on the right to food cam­paign and led to the re­lease of higher quan­tity of food grains to the peo­ple liv­ing be­low the poverty line. His land­mark or­ders also helped chil­dren from the less priv­i­leged sec­tions of so­ci­ety gain ac­cess to ba­sic in­fra­struc­ture in the pri­mary and sec­ondary schools.

Proud mo­ment

Ac­tu­ally, In­dia it­self was not ex­pect­ing such a smooth cake walk with its nom­i­nee Dalveer Bhan­dari once again walk­ing back to re­oc­cupy the hal­lowed por­tals of Judge of ICJ for an­other 9 year term from 2018-2027. This is re­ally great and phe­nom­e­nal. Ev­ery In­dian must be proud of this great achieve­ment which came de­spite UK giv­ing a tough fight to In­dia. An elated Bhan­dari was can­did enough to ad­mit that the vot­ing was marked by many tense mo­ments. He very rightly said that, “The elec­tion this time was more event­ful in the sense that it went on and on. And my re­elec­tion is more a vic­tory of all In­di­ans and the coun­try.”

Jus­tice Dalveer Bhan­dari re­ceived 183 of the 193 votes in the Gen­eral As­sem­bly and se­cured all the 15 votes in the Se­cu­rity Coun­cil after sep­a­rate and si­mul­ta­ne­ous elec­tions were held at the UN head­quar­ters in New York. No doubt, In­dia has pulled off a diplo­matic coup by win­ning the much prized ICJ seat. The UK wanted its can­di­date Christo­pher to

win once again but for­tu­nately for In­dia and most un­for­tu­nately for the UK they could not man­age to steal the show and up­set In­dia’s huge thump­ing sup­port that it got from al­most all the mem­bers in the UN Gen­eral As­sem­bly.

The firsts

To tell the truth, there are many firsts that are in­ex­tri­ca­bly linked with Bhan­dari’s ex­cel­lent per­for­mance in the ICJ. This is the first time in over seven decades of the United Na­tions that the UK will not be rep­re­sented in the ICJ; and this is the first time that one of the five per­ma­nent mem­bers of the UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil lost out to an or­di­nary mem­ber in a race. This is what makes In­dia’s vic­tory more special and sweeter for which all In­di­ans should feel proud of!

No doubt, this is also a big boost for In­dia’s le­git­i­mate claim for a per­ma­nent seat in the UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil. Some news chan­nels must be com­mended for high­light­ing this on their prime time shows. It is also worth not­ing here that this is also the first time that one sit­ting mem­ber of the ICJ lost out to an­other sit­ting mem­ber. In­dia thanked the UN mem­bers for sup­port­ing re-elec­tion of its Judge to the In­ter­na­tional Court of Jus­tice, say­ing the elec­tion process re­flected re­spect for its con­sti­tu­tional in­tegrity and in­de­pen­dent ju­di­ciary.

Jus­tice Bhan­dari com­ing out with fly­ing colours yet once again in the ICJ is a special proud mo­ment for In­dia as also for Bhan­dari him­self. Com­mend­ing Bhan­dari’s re-elec­tion, PM Naren­dra Modi called it a “proud mo­ment” for In­dia. He also tweeted, “Con­grat­u­la­tions to EAM @Sushma Swaraj and her en­tire team at Min­istry of Ex­ter­nal Af­fairs and diplo­matic mis­sions for their un­tir­ing ef­forts that have led to In­dia’s re­elec­tion to the ICJ. Our deep grat­i­tude to all the mem­bers of the UNGA as well as the UNSC for their sup­port and trust in In­dia.” It also must be noted here that the Min­istry of

Ex­ter­nal Af­fairs said in a state­ment that, “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.”

To be sure, Ex­ter­nal Af­fairs Min­is­ter Sushma Swaraj also tweeted, “Con­grat­u­la­tions to Jus­tice Dalveer Bhan­dari on his re­elec­tion as a Judge of the ICJ. Huge ef­forts by Team MEA. Syed Ak­barud­din, our Per­ma­nent Rep­re­sen­ta­tive in the UN de­serves a special men­tion.” No doubt, Sushma Swaraj her­self also left no stone un­turned to so­licit more and more sup­port for Bhan­dari and she made more than 60 phone calls to her coun­ter­parts so­lic­it­ing sup­port. She also held talks with Euro­pean coun­tries at var­i­ous lev­els and even though some were very stub­born but ul­ti­mately they were per­suaded to sup­port Bhan­dari.

Govt’s sup­port

It de­serves special men­tion here that it was Syed Ak­barud­din who first broke the news on Twit­ter as soon as the re­sults were an­nounced. Also, Syed Ak­barud­din must be ap­plauded for speaking ex­cep­tion­ally well at a re­cep­tion in honour of Bhan­dari and which was at­tended by rep­re­sen­ta­tives of over 160 coun­tries on Novem­ber 16, had sought to high­light the point that “only the can­di­date who en­joys over­whelm­ing sup­port of the Gen­eral As­sem­bly mem­ber­ship can be the only le­git­i­mate can­di­date to go through.” He also met Vice Prime Min­is­ter from Demo­cratic repub­lic of Congo, Leonard She Ok­i­tundu. Ak­barud­din ex­plained her about the vote and how the vic­tory of Bhan­dari would ben­e­fit the world com­mu­nity at large. A top of­fi­cial who was privy to the ICJ ne­go­ti­a­tions said that, “This vote re­flected how the world viewed In­dia vis-à-vis the UK. It was a rev­e­la­tion for us as well.”

Not to be left be­hind, even Matthew Ry­croft who is UK’s per­ma­nent rep­re­sen­ta­tive to the UN also con­grat­u­lated In­dia for such an em­phatic win! He re­marked that, “If the UK

could not win in the run-off, then we are pleased that it is a close friend like In­dia that has done so in­stead. The UK would con­tinue to co­op­er­ate closely with In­dia at the UN glob­ally.” But in the same breath, Ry­croft could not hide his true feel­ings of an­guish over Christo­pher and lamented that, “We’re nat­u­rally dis­ap­pointed, but it was a com­pet­i­tive field with six strong can­di­dates. The UK has con­cluded that it is wrong to con­tinue to take up the valu­able time of the Se­cu­rity Coun­cil and the UN Gen­eral As­sem­bly with fur­ther rounds of elec­tions.”

After the re­sult, the UK me­dia termed Jus­tice Bhan­dari’s vic­tory over Bri­tain’s can­di­date as a “hu­mil­i­at­ing blow for the UK”. It branded the “ac­ri­mo­nious” vote as a sign of Bri­tain’s erod­ing stature on the world stage. The Bri­tish news­pa­per Guardian re­ported with con­cern that, “The UK will not have a Judge on the Bench of the In­ter­na­tional Court of Jus­tice for the first time in its 71-year his­tory.” But For­eign Sec­re­tary Boris John­son while ad­dress­ing the House of Com­mons dis­missed the sug­ges­tion that the de­feat of the UK can­di­date was a “fail­ure” of Bri­tish diplo­macy. He con­tended that the with­drawal of Green­wood was linked to the “long­stand­ing ob­jec­tive of UK for­eign pol­icy to sup­port In­dia in the United Na­tions.” How­ever, not­with­stand­ing what Boris John­son said to soothe the frayed tem­pers of his coun­try-fel­lows, there can be no get­ting away from the ir­refutable and un­en­vi­able fact that UK has been badly knocked out by In­dia and that too in a pres­ti­gious body like ICJ.

As things stood, the win­ning can­di­date re­quired a ma­jor­ity in both the UN Gen­eral As­sem­bly and the UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil but 11 rounds of vot­ing had ended with In­dia win­ning in the Gen­eral As­sem­bly and the UK win­ning in the Se­cu­rity Coun­cil. In­ter­est­ingly enough, while four can­di­dates were elected smoothly to ICJ, the real

fight en­sued be­tween Bhan­dari and Green­wood with Bhan­dari hav­ing an up­per hand right from the be­gin­ning and ul­ti­mately emerg­ing as a vic­tor in the end. Of course, the UK had man­aged to se­cure nine of the 15 UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil votes in the pre­vi­ous rounds while In­dia en­joyed an over­whelm­ing ma­jor­ity in the Gen­eral As­sem­bly.

No prizes for guess­ing that this lead to a stale­mate. What is more, UK ini­tially wanted to sus­pend the vot­ing process and move to a con­fer­ence mech­a­nism that has never been used in the his­tory of the UN to break the stale­mate. But this was bit­terly op­posed by In­dia and UK thus could not muster ad­e­quate sup­port in favour of its can­di­date.

Also, this move needed ap­proval by the UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil in an open vot­ing while the vot­ing for the ICJ is through a secret bal­lot. It must be re­vealed here that UK be­gan to re­al­ize just be­fore its with­drew its can­di­date that the UK would not have nine mem­bers to sup­port pub­licly the pro­posal to sus­pend fur­ther rounds of vot­ing. A UN in­sider also re­vealed that, “Some mem­bers who voted for Bri­tain’s can­di­date, told them that they could not vote for the sus­pen­sion of the vot­ing process”.

In a dra­matic turn of events, UK’s Per­ma­nent Rep­re­sen­ta­tive to the UN Matthew Ry­croft wrote to the Pres­i­dent of the Gen­eral As­sem­bly and the Se­cu­rity Coun­cil shortly be­fore Mon­day’s 3 pm vot­ing, in­form­ing them that their nom­i­nee Green­wood has de­cided to with­draw from the race. The two Pres­i­dents then read out the let­ter in their re­spec­tive cham­bers. The rest as is called is his­tory now!

Need­less to say, In­dia thanked the UN mem­bers for sup­port­ing the re­elec­tion of its Judge Dalveer Bhan­dari to the ICJ. It would be per­ti­nent to note that Jus­tice Dalveer Bhan­dari fea­tured in some of the in­ter­est­ing cases on is­sues of global im­por­tance such as nu­clear dis­ar­ma­ment, ter­ri­to­rial and mar­itime re­sources, and cli­mate change-re­lated dis­putes, global ter­ror­ism and fi­nan­cial reg­u­la­tion. An of­fi­cial also pointed out that Judge Bhan­dari’s ten­ure in the ICJ is sig­nif­i­cant as it co­in­cided with the chang­ing na­ture of the court it­self as it reaf­firmed ar­rival of the new global play­ers like In­dia.


All said and done, the land­mark vic­tory of Jus­tice Dalveer Bhan­dari is not his vic­tory alone. It is the vic­tory of our na­tion as a whole. The Gov­ern­ment in the Cen­tre too has ev­ery right to claim credit for it be­cause no one can dis­pute that Cen­tre re­ally worked hard for en­sur­ing that Jus­tice Dalveer Bhan­dari once again sits in the ICJ as a Judge and not shiver out in the cold.

It is also an in­dis­putable fact that gov­ern­ment left no op­por­tu­nity un­used and made ex­tra ef­forts to en­sure that sup­port for Bhan­dari was more forth­com­ing and this backchan­nel talk cer­tainly worked in his favour and tipped the scales ul­ti­mately in his favour. We all must cel­e­brate this be­cause this is the big­gest proof that In­dia’s clout in the in­ter­na­tional arena in last few years has in­creased tremen­dously by leaps and bounds. Diplo­mats at the United Na­tions very rightly de­scribe this land­slide vic­tory as “a re­flec­tion of re­al­ity of 21st cen­tury”.

Jus­tice Dalveer Bhan­dari re­elected

as a Judge in In­ter­na­tional Court

of Jus­tice.

Sushma Swaraj thanks the diplo­matic com­mu­nity for sup­port­ing Bhan­dari's elec­tion to the ICJ.

The ap­point­ment of Dalveer Bhan­dari as the ICJ shows a

grow­ing stature of In­dia in the world.

In­dia's Per­ma­nent Rep­re­sen­ta­tive to the UN S Ak­barud­din with the vic­to­ri­ous can­di­date of ICJ Jus­tice Dalveer Bhan­dari.

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