Fact Check: Has Justice Dalveer Bhandari been elected as the Chief Justice of the ICJ?

A message has been doing the rounds that Justice Dalveer Bhandari, who is of Indian origin, has been elected as the Chief Justice of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for the next 9 years. The message further stated that he secured 183 out of 193 votes to be elected for this position. The message goes on to say that Great Britain was holding this position for 71 years and that it was indeed a proud moment for India and Jodhpur.

 

The message can be read its entirety below:

 Justice Dalveer Bhandari elected Chief Justice for International court of Justice for next 9 years. He secured 183 votes out of 193. 

Great Britain was holding this position for 71 years. 

Proud moment for India and Jodhpur 

 

This information is fake, first of all, there is no such position as a Chief Justice in the ICJ. There are Presidents and Vice Presidents only.

Secondly, a simple perusal of the official website of ICJ  will showcase that Justice Joan Donoghue of the US is the current president of the ICJ. She was elected as President in February, 2021 and has been a member of the court since 2010.

Justice Dalveer Bhandari is also a member of the ICJ and has been so since 2012. He was reelected to be member (not the president) back in 2017 (elected in November, 2017 and appointed in February, 2018) for a term of 9 years. 

Wondering where the stats “He secured 183 votes out of 193” came from? We did a bit of background check and found out that back in 2017 both Justice Bhandari and Justice Christopher Greenwood of the UK were locked in a stalemate after 11 contentious rounds of balloting, largely because of the vote in the 15-member Security Council. Finally, the British candidate withdrew and Justice Bhandari secured 183 of the 193 votes in the General Assembly and all 15 in the Security Council. Therefore, the 183 out of 193 votes had nothing to do with election of president of the ICJ but in fact with Justice Bhandari’s own re-election as member of the ICJ.

Now let us decode another fact. The President and Vice-President of the ICJ are elected by the Members of the Court every three years by secret ballot. The ICJ is composed of 15 judges  therefore the voting can be out of 15 members only and not 193 as stated in the viral message. Also, the term for a President is three years whereas the term for a member of the ICJ is nine years, therefore the viral message is factually incorrect on that ground as well.

The statement that “Great Britain was holding this position for 71 years” is also not true because before Justice Joan Donoghue of US  was elected to this position, Abdulqawi Yusuf of Somalia was the president of ICJ and even before him Ronny Abraham of France held this coveted position. The term of a president is only three years and the last time a Judge from the United Kingdom was elected as President was between 2006-09.

Now coming on to the last sentence “Proud moment for India and Jodhpur”. The city of Jodhpur is mentioned in this viral message probably because Justice Bhandari’s birthplace is Jodhpur.  The residents of Jodhpur and rest of the country are indeed very proud of him for being reelected as member of the ICJ. Fake forwards do a disservice to him and his legacy as a judge of Indian origin representing the country in an international institution.

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