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    Press Release No:  UNIS/GA/1619
    Release Date:  3 March 2000
     General Assembly, Voting Concurrently with Security Council,
    Elects Thomas Buergenthal (United States) to World Court

     NEW YORK, 2 March (UN Headquarters) -- The General Assembly this afternoon, meeting independently, but concurrently with the Security Council, elected Thomas Buergenthal (United States) as a member of the International Court of Justice to replace Judge Stephen Schwebel (United States), whose resignation was effective 29 February.  The newly elected judge will hold office for the remainder of his predecessor's term -- until 5 February 2006.

     Mr. Buergenthal was elected in one round of secret balloting by the absolute majority of 117 votes, with seven abstentions.

     Under the terms of the Court's Statute, to be elected the candidate has to obtain an absolute majority of votes both in the General Assembly and in the Security Council.  The electors in the General Assembly are all 188 Member States together with the one non-member State (Switzerland), which is a party to the Statute of the Court.  Accordingly, for the purpose of today’s election, the required absolute majority in the Assembly constituted 95 votes.  In the Security Council, eight votes constitute an absolute majority, and no distinction is made between permanent and non-permanent members of the Council.

     Judge Schwebel was first elected to be a member of the Court in 1981 and re-elected in 1988 and 1997.

     The composition of the International Court of Justice will now be as follows: President Gilbert Guillaume (France); Vice-President Shi Jiuyong (China); Judges Shigeru Oda (Japan); Thomas Buergenthal (United States); Mohammed Bedjaoui (Algeria); Raymond Ranjeva (Madagascar); Geza Herczegh (Hungary); Carl-August Fleischhauer (Germany); Abdul G. Koroma (Sierra Leone); Vladlen S. Vereshchetin (Russian Federation); Rosalyn Higgins (United Kingdom); Gonzalo Parra-Aranguren (Venezuela); Pieter H. Kooijmans (Netherlands); Jose F. Rezek (Brazil); and Awn Shawkat Al-Khasawneh (Jordan).

     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, regardless of their nationality, are to have high moral character and possess the qualifications required in their respective countries for appointment to the highest judicial offices, or have recognized competence in international law. 

     Article 9 requires electors to bear in mind that the Court as a whole should represent the main forms of civilization and the principal legal systems of the world.

     Also this afternoon, the Assembly approved the appointment of Dileep Nair (Singapore) as Under-Secretary-General for Internal Oversight Services for a fixed term of five years, effective 24 April.

     The Office of Internal Oversight Services was created in 1994 under General Assembly resolution 48/218 B (1994), by the terms of which the head of that body in the rank of Under-Secretary-General for Internal Oversight Services should be an expert in the fields of accounting, auditing, financial analysis and investigations, management, law or public administration.  The position should be filled with due regard for geographical rotation.  No national of a Member State should succeed a national of that State in a senior post and there should be no monopoly on senior posts by nationals of any State or group of States.

     In other action this afternoon, the Assembly also decided to include in the agenda of its fifty-fourth session an additional item, entitled “Financing of the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo”.  The item was allocated to the Fifth Committee.  In view of the urgency of the matter, the Assembly waived the relevant provision of the rules of procedure requiring a meeting of the General Committee on the question of the inclusion of the item.

     The Mission was established by Security Council resolution 1279 of 30 November 1999 and expanded on 24 February, when the Council unanimously adopted resolution 1291, authorizing deployment of up to 5,537 military personnel, including up to 500 observers.

     At the opening of this afternoon’s meeting, the President of the Assembly, Theo Ben-Gurirab (Namibia) expressed sympathy to the Governments and peoples of southern African countries recently struck by disastrous floods, in particular Mozambique, for the tragic loss of lives and material damage.

     He also informed the delegates that Afghanistan, Belize, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Guyana, Honduras, Latvia, Mongolia, the Sudan and Uzbekistan had made the necessary payments to reduce their arrears below the amount specified in Article 19 of the Charter.

     The delegates were also informed that Tuiloma Neroni Slade (Samoa) and Alan Simcock (United Kingdom) had been appointed Co-Chairmen of the Open-ended Informal Consultative Process on Ocean Affairs.

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