16 February 2005

Security Council Elects Ronny Abraham of France to International Court of Justice, Acting Concurrently with General Assembly

Fills Vacancy Created by Gilbert Guillaume’s Resignation; Will Serve Remainder of Nine-Year Term -- Until 5 February 2009

NEW YORK, 15 February (UN Headquarters) -- The Security Council this morning, meeting independently, but concurrently with the General Assembly, elected distinguished jurist Ronny Abraham (France) to the International Court of Justice, to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Judge and former President Gilbert Guillaume, as of 11 February.

Mr. Abraham will serve for the remainder of his predecessor’s nine-year term -– until 5 February 2009. Judge Guillaume was elected as a member of the Court as from 14 September 1987 and was re-elected as from 6 February 1991 and from 6 February 2000.

The Council elected Mr. Abraham, the sole candidate nominated by the national groups, by a vote of 15 in favour. Under the terms of the Court's Statute, the candidate who obtains an absolute majority of votes in both the Assembly and in the Council is considered elected. In the Security Council, eight votes constitute an absolute majority and no distinction is made between permanent and non-permanent members of the Council. The electors in the General Assembly are all 191 Member States, and, accordingly, 96 votes constitute an absolute majority.

The composition of the Court will now be as follows (terms expire on 5 February of the year in parenthesis): Ronny Abraham (France) (2009); Awn Shawkat Al-Khasawneh (Jordan) (2009); Thomas Buergenthal (United States) (2006); Nabil Elaraby (Egypt) (2006); Rosalyn Higgins (United Kingdom) (2009); Shi Jiuyong (China)(2012); Pieter H. Kooijmans (Netherlands) (2006); Abdul G. Koroma (Sierra Leone) (2012); Hisashi Owada (Japan) (2012); Gonzalo Parra-Aranguren (Venezuela) (2009); Raymond Ranjeva (Madagascar) (2009); Francisco Rezek (Brazil) (2006); Bruno Simma (Germany) (2012); Peter Tomka (Slovakia) (2012); and Vladlen S. Vereshchetin (Russian Federation)(2006).

The Court, located in The Hague, is the United Nations principal judicial organ. It adjudicates disputes between States, and its legal opinions are binding. The Court also gives advisory opinions to the United Nations and the specialized agencies when requested to do so. According to Article 2 of the Statute, judges are to be elected, regardless of their nationality, from among persons of high moral character, who possess the qualifications required in their respective countries for appointment to the highest judicial offices, or are of recognized competence in international law. Article 9 requires electors to bear in mind that the body as a whole should represent the main forms of civilization and the principal legal systems of the world.

The meeting began at 11:03 a.m. and adjourned at 12:10 p.m.


The Security Council had before it a memorandum by the Secretary-General on the election of a member of the International Court of Justice (document A/59/683-S/2005/51), which lists the composition of the Court and describes the procedure for election in the Council and the General Assembly. The Court consists of 15 judges, elected for a term of nine years. Its current President is Shi Jiuyong (China), and the Vice-President is Raymond Ranjeva (Madagascar).

During the election, the Council and the Assembly will proceed, independently of one another, to elect one member to fill the vacancy. If, in the first ballot in either the Assembly or the Council, no candidate receives an absolute majority, a second ballot will be held. Balloting will continue in the same meeting until a candidate has obtained the required majority.

When a candidate has obtained the required majority in one of the organs, the President of that organ will notify the President of the other organ of the name of that candidate. Such notification is not communicated by the President of the second organ to the members until that organ has itself given a candidate the required majority of votes.

If the Assembly and the Council do not select the same candidate, they will proceed to a second meeting and, if necessary, a third meeting, following the same procedures. If the vacancy remains unfilled after a third meeting, a special procedure set out in the Statute of the Court may be resorted to at the request of either the Assembly or the Council. According to Article 12 of the Statute, a joint conference of six members, three from the Assembly and three from the Council, may be formed to choose, by the vote of an absolute majority, one name for each seat still vacant. Such name or names will be submitted to the Assembly and the Council for their respective acceptance.

If the joint conference is satisfied that it will not be successful in procuring an election, those members of the Court who have already been elected shall, within a period to be fixed by the Security Council, fill the vacant seats by selection from among those candidates who have obtained votes either in the Assembly or in the Council. In the event of an equality of votes among the judges, the eldest judge shall have a casting vote.

The curriculum vitae of Ronny Abraham, the candidate nominated by the national groups, is contained in document A/59/684-S/2005/52, and the submission of his nomination by the national groups is contained in a note by the Secretary-General (document A/59/682-S/2005/50).

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