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World's top court among nations gets new judges
By JOHN HEILPRIN
Associated Press
2008-11-07 07:05 AM
Five judges from Brazil, Britain, France and Jordan won new terms Thursday to the world's highest international court dealing with disputes among nations.

Two of the judges were re-elected to the 15-seat International Court of Justice, which was created with the U.N.'s founding in 1945, and is the only international court with general jurisdiction.

Those were Awn Shawkat Al-Khasawneh of Jordan, the court's vice president, and Ronny Abraham of France, a recent former legal director in the French Foreign Affairs Ministry.

The other three are newcomers to the Dutch-based court: Antonio Augusto Cancado Trindade, a law professor from Brazil; Christopher John Greenwood, a law professor from Britain; and Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf of Somalia, general counsel of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, known as UNESCO.

To win election, a judge must capture more than 50 percent of separate votes in the General Assembly and the Security Council, whose members each choose five candidates. All the judges won nine-year terms starting Feb. 6.

"It's like selecting judges for the U.S. Supreme Court, it's that important," said Panamanian Ambassador Ricardo Alberto Arias, a Security Council member.

Judges are limited to three terms, or 27 years, on the court, which is one of the U.N.'s main bodies. Each judge must have a different nationality.

Cases can be referred to it by any of the U.N.'s 192 member nations. So far, 66 nations have agreed to accept its decisions as binding.

"It has a long record of resolving disputes between nations and of building up the concept of international law, which has made an enormous contribution to establishing the rule of law worldwide," said British Ambassador John Sawers, who was pleased at Greenwood's overwhelming win.

About 300 international treaties name the ICJ as the final arbiter in case of disputes.

The General Assembly and Security Council also can request an advisory opinion from the ICJ on any legal issue, as happened in September, when Serbia wanted an opinion on Kosovo's independence.

In voting Thursday, four judges were selected in the first round Thursday morning. But the selection didn't end until nine hours later, when Yusuf, of Somalia, finally won a majority.

Candidates from Cameroon, Colombia, Congo and Philippines also had put their names into contention.

Aside from political considerations, nations are supposed to weigh candidates based on their qualifications and previous advocacy work.

___

On the Net:

http://www.icj-cij.org/

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