New Delhi: Justice Dalveer Bhandari was re-elected as a judge at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) overnight Tuesday, making him the third Indian to secure a prominent position in a United Nations (UN) body in recent months.
International law expert Neeru Chadha was elected to the UN body, the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS), in Hamburg in June. And last month, Soumya Swaminathan, director general of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), was appointed deputy director general for programmes at the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva.
Other Indians in key positions in the UN system include former diplomat Lakshmi Puri who is assistant secretary-general for Intergovernmental Support and Strategic Partnerships at the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women. Another former Indian diplomat Atul Khare is currently the UN Under-Secretary-General for Field Support.
Bhandari, 70, was declared elected for a fresh term at the ICJ after Britain withdrew its candidate Christopher Greenwood late on Monday with more than two-thirds of the UN General Assembly members backing the Indian candidate. He received 183 of the 193 votes in the General Assembly and secured all 15 votes in the Security Council to fill the final vacancy on the ICJ.
The election was a hard fought battle—eleven rounds of balloting were held with Bhandari winning in the General Assembly and Greenwood in the Security Council vote.
“It is for the first time that a candidate from a permanent member of the UN Security Council (P-5) has not found a seat at the ICJ," said a person familiar with the development. “The scale of the victory shows that India had support cutting across geographical regions," the person said, adding: “It shows the will of the General Assembly prevailed over that of the Security Council" where the British candidate had support, the person added.
Analysts say the election result was crucial for India to gauge the support it enjoys in the world body where New Delhi has been campaigning for reforms, including a permanent seat for itself in the powerful Security Council.
The Indian foreign ministry had over the past few weeks lobbied hard with countries to ensure Bhandari secures a two-thirds majority win. Envoys stationed in New Delhi were called in by the foreign office to seek assurances that they would vote for Bhandari, a second person said. This effort was shored up by foreign minister Sushma Swaraj and ministers of state V.K. Singh and M.J. Akbar, who called up their counterparts abroad. Prime Minister Narendra Modi also chipped in, lobbying for Bhandari with leaders he met over the past weeks, the second person said.
“There were demarches served to respective foreign offices by Indian envoys stationed in different countries. The whole system worked like a well-oiled machine to deliver the results," this person added.
Bhandari is the fourth Indian judge to be elected to the ICJ after B.N. Rau, Nagendra Singh and R.S. Pathak.