United Nations, June 23: Jurist Yuji Iwasawa of Japan has been elected judge of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to succeed retired judge Hisashi Owada, also from Japan.
Iwasawa on Friday won 15 out of 15 votes at the Security Council and 184 out of 189 votes at the General Assembly. Five member states did not turn out to vote at the General Assembly, Xinhua news agency reported.
The 15 ICJ judges serve for nine-year terms. However, the election was called as Owada resigned before the end of his term in 2021, which Iwasawa will complete, according to UN News.
The ICJ settles legal disputes between states in addition to providing UN entities with advisory opinions on legal matters. Located in The Hague, in the Netherlands, it is one of the six principal organs of the UN and the only one not situated in New York.
Iwasawa's term of office starts immediately on Friday and ends on February 5, 2021, Xinhua reported.
Iwasawa, 64, is a professor of international law at the University of Tokyo.
Since 2017, he has served as chair of the UN Human Rights Committee, a UN body of 18 experts that meets three times a year to oversee compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. He has been a member of the committee since 2007.
He has been president of the Japanese Society of International Law since 2016.
Owada, the father of Crown Princess Masako of Japan, retired from the ICJ at the age of 85.
He offered to resign in February 2018 and his resignation became officially effective on June 7, 2018.
It is believed that Owada's retirement was partly because of his age, and partly because his daughter will become Japanese empress next year with the planned abdication of Emperor Akihito and Crown Prince Naruhito's enthronement.
Under the Statute of the International Court of Justice, the principal judicial organ of the United Nations, the election of ICJ judges is through secret balloting at the Security Council and the General Assembly.
A candidate has to obtain absolute majority in both chambers to get elected. Voting in the two chambers must be held concurrently but separately.
The 15 judges must come from 15 different countries. The court as a whole must represent the main forms of civilisation and the principal legal systems of the world.