Press Releases

    GA/9931
    15 October 2001

    GENERAL ASSEMBLY SPEAKERS APPLAUD AWARD
    OF NOBEL PEACE PRIZE TO SECRETARY-GENERAL
    KOFI ANNAN AND UNITED NATIONS

    Nabil Elaraby (Egypt) Elected to Fill Vacancy on International Court of Justice

    NEW YORK, 12 October (UN Headquarters) -- The General Assembly this morning celebrated the announcement that Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the United Nations had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. The Secretary-General addressed the Assembly, and tributes were paid by the Assembly President and representatives of regional groups of Member States.

    Also this morning, the Assembly, acting concurrently with the Security Council, elected Nabil Elaraby of Egypt to fill a vacancy on the International Court of Justice.

    The Secretary-General said the honour of the Nobel Peace Prize for the United Nations was an honour for all delegations of all countries and for United Nations staff all around the world. A year ago, at the Millennium Assembly, heads of State had committed themselves to the values of a better world. Now, the Nobel Committee had proclaimed that the only way to that better world lay through the United Nations.

    The Assembly’s President, Han Seung-soo (Republic of Korea), in a statement read by Vice-President Murari Raj Sharma (Nepal), said everyone in the United Nations family felt proud that the United Nations had been at the forefront of peace and security efforts for fifty years. The Nobel award would encourage everyone to make further efforts for accomplishing the United Nations mandate for humanity. It was a critical time in history, and the Nobel Peace Prize was a most fitting and timely recognition.

    The representatives of Sudan (on behalf of the African Group), Sri Lanka (on behalf of the Asian group), Georgia (on behalf of the Eastern European group), Haiti (on behalf of the Latin American and Caribbean group), Ireland (on behalf of the group of Western European and other States), and the United States, the host country, conveyed their congratulations to the Secretary-General and the Organization.

    In the election to fill the vacancy on the International Court of Justice, Mr. Elaraby received 124 votes during the first round of secret balloting, exceeding the required majority of 96 votes. [Switzerland, party to the Court’s Statute but not a Member of the United Nations, was also allowed to participate with the 189 Member States]. As he had also received the absolute majority of votes in the Security Council, he was therefore duly elected.

    The election was for one vacancy because of the resignation of Court Judge and former President Mohammed Bedjaoui effective 30 September 2001. Mr. Elaraby would serve Mr. Bedjaoui’s remaining term, until 5 February 2006. He was nominated for the vacancy by Egypt, France, Greece, Liechtenstein, Sweden and United Kingdom. Italy had joined the nomination as well, albeit after the deadline for nominations had expired.

    Mr. Elaraby was elected from a list of two candidates. The other candidate was Ramain Wodie, a professor of international law from Côte d’Ivoire, who received 50 votes. A third candidate, Georges Abi-Saab (Egypt), had asked to have his name withdrawn from the list of nominations.

    The Assembly will meet again on Monday, 15 October, at 10 a.m. to take up the Notification by the Secretary-General under Article 12, paragraph 2, of the Charter of the United Nations, and the report of the Security Council.

    Nobel Peace Prize Award

    MURARI RAJ SHARMA (Nepal), Vice-President of the General Assembly, in a statement on behalf of the President, HAN SEUNG-SOO (Republic of Korea), extended the heartfelt congratulations of all United Nations members, to the Organization and its Secretary-General Kofi Annan on the winning of the Nobel Peace Prize. He said that as members of the United Nations family, they felt proud that during the last half century the United Nations had been at the forefront of efforts to achieve peace and security. The award would encourage everyone to make further efforts to accomplish the United Nations mandate for humanity.

    He said the award was most fitting, at a time when the world was facing formidable challenges such as poverty, terrorism, drug abuse, environmental degradation and HIV/AIDS. The entire United Nations owed the Secretary-General a large debt of gratitude for his outstanding leadership and service at this critical time in history.

    The international community should view this award not just as recognition of past achievement but, more important, as a beacon illuminating the way forward for the United Nations as it rose to confront new challenges.

    Secretary-General KOFI ANNAN said the honour for the United Nations was an honour for all delegations of all countries, and for United Nations staff around the world. They worked hard every day to make the world a better place, many risking their lives daily.

    He said that at the Millennium Assembly a year ago, heads of State had committed themselves to the values of a better world. Now, the Nobel Committee had proclaimed that the only way to that better world lay through the United Nations. In a globalizing world, in which unprecedented cruelty was showing itself, it was obvious that the United Nations way was only way. "We should be proud, he said, but, even more, humble.-- because more will be expected of us." For all who had died in service of the Organization, he added, the only prize would be peace itself.

    ELFATIH MOHAMED AHMED ERWA (Sudan), for the group of African States, said he wants to express, on behalf of the group, sincere congratulations to the Organization and to the "distinguished son of Africa, indeed the son of the world, Kofi Annan." Since Mr. Annan had assumed the leadership of the United Nations, its role had become more and more critical. Therefore, the award came as a great moral support and recognition for "each and every one of us".

    JOHN DE SARAM (Sri Lanka), for the group of Asian States, said today was for "all of us a most moving and profound occasion". He offered "profound congratulations" to the Secretary-General, and the United Nations and its Member States. It was an occasion full of hope, encouragement and promise for the long years ahead when coming together and working together would be needed.

    GUEORGUI VOLSKI (Georgia), for Eastern European States, said it was a great honour and responsibility for the Organization to have received the Nobel Peace Prize, and that was also true for the Secretary-General personally.

    PIERRE LELONG (Haiti) for the Latin American and Caribbean States congratulated the Secretary-General for the enormous honour bestowed on him personally and on the Organization he headed. From this day on, he said, the events of human history would never again be mentioned without reference to the United Nations.

    Speaking for the group of Western European and Other States, KARL GARDNER (Ireland), congratulating the Secretary-General and the Organization, said the event recognized the esteem accorded to the United Nations and was a tribute to how it faced a broad range of tasks.

    On behalf of the host country, NANCY MARCUS (United States) congratulated the Secretary-General and the Organization for the well-deserved distinction it had been awarded. The events of the last month, she said, had made the importance of the United Nations abundantly clear. The United States was enormously grateful for the support and assistance it was receiving. The host country shared in the joy of the house today and extended its special congratulations to the Secretary-General. "You have made us, deeply, deeply proud," she said.

    International Court of Justice Vacancy

    (The Assembly then turned to the election to free a vacancy on the International Court of Justice.) The Assembly had before it a memorandum by the Secretary-General (document A/56/372-S/2001/881), noting that Judge and former President Mohammed Bedjaoui had informed the President of the Court of his resignation as a member of the Court effective 30 September 2001. The memorandum noted that a member of the Court elected to replace a member whose term of office has not expired shall hold office for the remainder of the predecessor's term (Article 15 of the Statute of the Court). The member elected to replace Judge Bedjaoui will thus serve until 5 February 2006. [Normally, members are elected for a term of nine years.]

    The memorandum further lists the composition of the Court and describes the procedure for election in the Assembly and the Security Council. The Court consists of 15 judges, elected for a term of nine years. Its current President is Gilbert Guillaume (France); the Vice-President is Shi Jiuyong (China).

    During the election, the Assembly and the Security Council proceed, independently of one another, to elect one member to fill the vacancy. In the Assembly, Switzerland, party to the Statute of the Court but not a member of the United Nations, has been invited to participate in the same manner as the States Members, in accordance with Assembly resolution 264 (III) of 1948. The candidate who obtains an absolute majority of votes both in the Assembly (96 votes) and in the Council (8, without distinction between its permanent and non-permanent members), will be considered as elected.

    If, in the first ballot in either the Assembly or the Council, no candidate receives an absolute majority, a second ballot will be held and 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 that candidate’s name. 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, upon comparison of the name of the candidate so selected by the Assembly and the Council, it is found that the result is different, the Assembly and Council will proceed in a second meeting and, if necessary, a third meeting, following the same procedures. If, however, after the third meeting, the vacancy still remains unfilled, the special procedure set out in article 15 of the Statute of the Court may be resorted to at the request of either the Assembly or the Council.

    [Article 12 of the Statute states, among other things, that in this case a joint conference of six members will be formed, three appointed by the General Assembly and three by the Security Council. They will choose, by the vote of an absolute majority, one name for each seat still vacant for submission to the General Assembly and the Security Council for their respective acceptance. If the joint conference is satisfied that it will procure an election, the Court members already elected will fill the vacant seats within a period to be fixed by the Security Council. They will do so by selecting from among the candidates who had obtained votes either in the General Assembly or in the Security Council. In the event of an equality of votes among the judges, the eldest judge shall have a casting vote.]

    In a note to the Assembly and the Council (document A/56/373-S/2001/882) the Secretary-General submits a list of nominated candidates by national groups. According to that note, Georges Abi-Saab (Egypt), was nominated by Belgium; Nabil Elaraby (Egypt) was nominated by Egypt, France, Greece, Liechtenstein, Sweden and United Kingdom; and Francis Romain Wodie (Côte d'Ivoire) was nominated by Côte d'Ivoire.

    According to a note by the Secretary-General (document A/56/373/Add.1-S/2001/882/Add.1), Mr. Abi-Saab withdrew his name from the list of nominations. A memorandum of the Secretary-General (document A/56/374-S/2001/883) presents the curricula vitae of candidates.

    Assembly Action

    The Assembly then proceeded to elect one Member of the International Court of Justice for the unexpired term of office of Judge and former President Mohammed Bedjaoui, whose resignation took effect on 30 September 2001 by secret ballot.

    The Assembly was informed that Switzerland, a party to the Court’s Statute but not a Member State of the United Nations, would participate in the election in accordance with Assembly resolution 264 of 8 October 1948.

    The Assembly was also informed that, in accordance with Article 8 of the Court’s Statute, the Assembly and the Security Council would proceed independently of one another to elect the members of the Court. Accordingly, the results of the Assembly voting would not be communicated to the Council until one candidate had obtained the required majority in the Assembly. A candidate would need 96 votes to be elected.

    The result of the first round of voting was as follows:

    Number of ballot papers 174
    Number of invalid ballots 0
    Number of valid ballots 174
    Abstentions 0
    Number of Members voting 174
    Required majority 96
    Nabil Elaraby (Egypt) 124
    Francis Romain Wodie 50

    The Assembly was informed that the President of the Security Council had sent a letter to the Assembly’s Vice-President that Mr. Elaraby had obtained the absolute majority in that organ.

    Mr. Elaraby was therefore duly elected a member of the International Court of Justice to serve for a term commencing today and ending on 5 February 2006. Mr Elaraby, a member of the International Law Commission, was formerly Permanent Representative of Egypt to the United Nations.

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