Yesterday the United Nations General Assembly and the Security Council elected Julia Sebutinde to be a Judge at the International Court of Justice (see UN press release). Readers may recall from an earlier post that the Security Council and General Assembly elected four judges to the ICJ last month but most unusually failed to agree on the fifth judge to be elected. The ICJ Statute requires that candidates obtain an absolute majority in both the Security Council and the General Assembly. After several rounds of voting Judge Abdul Koroma (Sierra Leone), who is the currently the longest serving judge at the ICJ, consistently obtained a majority in the Security Council but Judge Julia Sebutinde consistently got more votes in the General Assembly. As I reported in my previous post, the Statute provides a procedure that may be used to resolve this deadlock. However, both organs chose to postpone voting till a later date and yesterday Judge Sebutinde again won in the General Assembly but this time also won in the Security Council. Judge Sebutinde got 97 votes in the General Assembly to Judge Koroma’s 93 and she obtained 9 votes in the Security Council to Judge Koroma’s 6.
Judge Sebutinde was the candidate endorsed by the African Union, and her country Uganda had expected that she would receive the support of African countries. Indeed, it has been reported that Uganda and Sierra Leone had an agreement that Sierra Leone would withdraw the candidature of Judge Koroma. Sierra Leone did not do this and Judge Koroma proved to be a popular candidate when the elections came round.
Judge Sebutinde is third woman elected to the ICJ in the space of just 18 months (here and here), which is great news, especially as there had only been one female judge prior to this in the entire history of the ICJ and PCIJ (apart from a couple of female ad hoc judges). Judge Sebutinde is currently a Judge at the Special Court for Sierra Leone where she was Presiding Judge in the trial of former Liberian President Charles Taylor. Before this, she was a Judge in the Ugandan High Court.