Britain has withdrawn its candidate from election to the UN International Court of Justice (ICJ) as he was forced into 12 rounds of run-off elections for the final remaining place on the court.
It will be the first time since the ICJ was established in 1945 that there will be no British judge.
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 British candidate Sir Christopher Greenwood.
The election then turned into a stalemate between Britain, which enjoyed support in the UN Security Council, and India’s judge Dalveer Bhandari, who won the vote in the General Assembly.
To win an ICJ election, a candidate needs to get a majority in both the General Assembly and the Security Council, which had not happened in this case in the first 11 rounds of voting, necessitating a 12th round.
One-third of the ICJ’s 15-member bench is elected every three years for a nine-year term.
“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,” British Ambassador to the UN Matthew Rycroft said Monday. “We are naturally disappointed, but it was a competitive field with six strong candidates.”
Greenwood had served one nine-year term at the The Hague-based court and was seeking to secure a second term.
Some diplomats have attributed Britain’s failure to rally support for its candidate at the General Assembly to a loss of influence, following London’s decision to leave the European Union.