Issue 145 - July 2 - Xue Hanquin Joins International Court of Justice

New York, July 2, 2010 - The UN General Assembly and Security Council elected a new member of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Tuesday, June 29. Xue Hanquin of China was elected following the resignation of former judge and Court president Shi Jiuyong on May 28.

Judge Xue replaces him, effective immediately, and will serve the remainder of his term, until February 5, 2011. [This Monitor has been corrected since its original posting, which listed her term ending in February 2010. -ed]

Xue is currently China's ambassador to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and a member of the International Law Commission. (See curriculum vitae.)

Xue is the only female member currently serving on the court. Until her election, all fifteen members of the Court were male.

Nomination and Election Process

In cases of a vacancy on the court, Article 5 of the ICJ Statute calls for the UN Secretary-General to address a written request to members of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) and to members of national groups, at least three months before the date of the election. (The national groups are bodies within the PCA responsible for nominating a person or list of persons for election.)

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon did so on March 19, 2010, inviting members to nominate a suitable person to fill the position by May 30, 2010.

According to Article 9 of the Statue calls for a judge of the same nationality to be elected to complete an early-resigning judge's term, in order to maintain "representation of the main forms of civilization and of the principal legal systems of the world."

Xue Hanquin was nominated by the national groups on May 30, 2010.

She was elected in the first round of balloting in both the General Assembly and in the Security Council, receiving an absolute majority in both bodies. Xue needed at least 98 votes in the General Assembly and at least 8 votes in the Security Council ballots; the requirements were met separately and simultaneously by each of the governing bodies. Xue received 150 votes in the 192-member General Assembly, while the Security Council elected her unanimously with 15 votes.

Judges serve nine-year terms, and may be re-elected for up to two additional terms.

The present composition of the International Court of Justice, taking account of Judge Shi's resignation and Xue Hanquin's election, is as follows:


Hisashi Owada (Japan)


Peter Tomka (Slovakia)


Ronny Abraham (France)

Awn Shawkat Al-Khasawneh (Jordan)

Mohamed Bennouna (Morocco)

Thomas Buergenthal (United States of America)

Antônio Augusto Cançado Trindade (Brazil)

Christopher Greenwood (United Kingdom of Great Britain and 

Northern Ireland)

Xia Hanquin (China)

Kenneth Keith (New Zealand)

Abdul G. Koroma (Sierra Leone)

Bernardo Sepúlveda-Amor (Mexico)

Bruno Simma (Germany)

Leonid Skotnikov (Russian Federation)

Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf (Somalia)

Coming Up

The General Assembly and Security Council are expected to meet on September 9, 2010 to elect someone to complete the term of Judge Thomas Buergenthal of the U.S. in September 2010 (his term would have expired in February 2015).

According to The Hague Justice Portal, Joan Donoghue, U.S. State Department Principal Deputy Legal Adviser, has been nominated by the U.S. National Group to fill the position.

In February 2012, five seats will need to be filled due to the expiring terms of President Owada, Vice-President Tomka, and Judges Hanquin, Koroma, and Simma.