Britain to have no judges on International Court of Justice for first time ever after withdrawing candidate

Britain forced to withdraw following stalemate with India in a humiliating blow to its diplomatic prestige

Caroline Mortimer
Monday 20 November 2017 22:10 GMT
Britain to have no judges on International Court of Justice for first time ever after withdrawing candidate

The UK has withdrawn its candidate from election to the UN International Court of Justice.

It will be the first time Britain will not have a judge on the UN’s most powerful court for the first time in its history.

The UK is one of the founding members of the United Nations and has had a representative on the bench since its inception in 1946.

The move comes after the UK suffered a humiliating blow to its diplomatic prestige last week when after five rounds of simultaneous voting by the Security Council and the General Assembly in New York, four judges from Brazil, Lebanon, France and Somalia were chosen for the bench ahead of the UK's candidate Sir Christopher Greenwood.

The UK and India were set to go head to head in a run-off vote for the last seat available on the bench in a second vote on Monday evening.

In a statement, UK Ambassador Matthew Rycroft said: "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.

"We are naturally disappointed, but it was a competitive field with six strong candidates."

Sir Christopher had already served one nine-year term on the court, which is based in The Hague, and had been seeking a second.

The election is believed to have ended up in a stalemate between Sir Christopher, who was the Security Council's choice, and the Indian candidate Dalveer Bhandari, who won the vote in the General Assembly.

In order to win a candidate needs to win a majority in both bodies.

The UK's failure to guarantee a place on the court of an organisation it helped to found has been interpreted as a sign of its increasingly irrelevance on the world stage following the decision to leave the European Union.

Britain has held a place on the UN Security Council, alongside the US, France, Russia and China, since its inception in 1945 which has made it a world leader.

But now there are fears that as the country turns inwards following the vote by vowing to leave the customs union and placing heavy controls on immigration it will no longer be able to command the respect it once did.

In contrast India, with its status as the world's biggest democracy and with a growing economy, is seen as in the ascendancy.

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