Ad­van­tage In­dia in dead­locked con­test for in­ter­na­tional court

In­dia’s Dalveer Bhan­dari won 121 votes, merely seven short of what is called a ‘moral ma­jor­ity’ of 128

Hindustan Times (Lucknow) - - Nation - Yash­want Raj yash­want.raj@hin­dus­tan­times.com ▪

WASH­ING­TON: The elec­tion for the fifth va­cancy on the In­ter­na­tional Court of Jus­tice (ICJ) re­mained tied for the sec­ond day on Mon­day af­ter nei­ther can­di­date man­aged to wrap up the req­ui­site num­bers of votes in three hours of polling.

But In­dia’s Dalveer Bhan­dari ended the day in a much bet­ter place than his ri­val, Bri­tain’s Christo­pher Green­wood.

Bhan­dari won 121 votes in the fifth and fi­nal round in the UN Gen­eral As­sem­bly, which was merely seven short of what is called a “moral ma­jor­ity” of 128. The num­ber rep­re­sents twothirds of the 193-mem­ber as­sem­bly, used as a yard­stick be­fore, ac­cord­ing to UN watch­ers, to break a dead­locked vote such as this. The logic, an In­dian of­fi­cial ex­plained, is that if a can­di­date was un­able to se­cure the sup­port of two-thirds of the body, he or she had lost the moral au­thor­ity to stay in the race, and must, there­fore, with­draw. While the Bri­tish could, or not, take that line, In­di­ans seemed clear they were not quit­ting.

The win­ner must se­cure an ab­so­lute ma­jor­ity in the as­sem­bly, which is 97 or more votes, as well the Se­cu­rity Coun­cil, where the magic mark is eight. Bhan­dari won the gen­eral as­sem­bly in all five rounds, start­ing with 110 in the first. And Green­wood clung to the Se­cu­rity Coun­cil with an un­chang­ing 9-5 lead.

Much is at stake in this elec­tion, and not just an­other term for the two can­di­dates. In­dia needs a vic­tory in order to have Bhan­dari on the bench when the 15-mem­ber In­ter­na­tional Court of Jus­tice hears in De­cem­ber its ap­peal in the case of Kulb­hushan Jad­hav, who has been ac­cused by Pak­istan of be­ing an In­dian spy and faces the death penalty.

For Bri­tain, it’s a test of its abil­ity to stem its shrink­ing global in­flu­ence and power, has­tened lately by its de­ci­sion to leave the Euro­pean Union, also known as Brexit. Its fail­ure to end this con­test early, and eas­ily, has al­ready aroused con­ster­na­tion at home, where com­men­ta­tors are speak­ing of hu­mil­i­a­tion.

Bri­tain has al­ways had a rep­re­sen­ta­tive on the court, which is based in The Hague, since 1946, as have other per­ma­nent mem­bers of the UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil un­der an un­writ­ten ar­range­ment. The un­der­stand­ing is not dis­sim­i­lar in na­ture to the one that has al­lowed the US and Europe to lead World Bank and In­ter­na­tional Mone­tary fund re­spec­tively.

From In­dia’s per­spec­tive “that’s an im­por­tant given that needs to be chal­lenged”. One of­fi­cial said the bat­tle was about “pres­tige” and once this “mat­ter of pres­tige” was changed, oth­ers would fol­low. Such as the per­ma­nent mem­ber­ship of the Se­cu­rity Coun­cil. In­di­ans were gen­er­ally pleased with the way the con­test turned out “de­spite all that has been thrown at us” by the ri­val and co­horts, es­pe­cially other mem­bers of the per­ma­nent club that could be hard to pin in a se­cret bal­lot.

Bhan­dari be­gan the Mon­day con­test win­ning the gen­eral as­sem­bly 110-79, 113-76, 111-79, 118-72 and, fi­nally, 121-68, clearly show­ing which way the gen­eral body, and the world, was go­ing and de­ci­sively. But he dropped one vote in the Se­cu­rity Coun­cil from last week to lose 5-9, but kept the line there. The elec­tion was ad­journed to be re­sumed at a later date to be an­nounced in con­sul­ta­tion with the can­di­dates.

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