IO files, US/A/3545 (also US/S/1874)

United States Delegation Working Paper

UK Record of Meeting Held at United Nations Headquarters Building on November 13, 1952

elections of judges of the international court of justice

An informal meeting was held upon the invitation of the United Kingdom Delegation, to discuss certain proposals related to the procedure for electing judges of the International Court of Justice. The meeting had before it a memorandum prepared by the Government of the United Kingdom.

2. The following were present:

Canada Mr. A.R. Crepault
Chile Mr. Horacio Suarez
China Dr. Shuhsi Hsu
Egypt Mr. El Tanamly
France Mr. R. de Lacharriere
Norway Mr. Dons
United Kingdom Mr. Fitzmaurice and Mr. Vallat
United States Mr. J. Maktos and Mr. J. Hyde
Uruguay Mr. Darwin Bracco.

3. Three proposals were discussed:

The separation of elections of judges of the International Court from other elections which take place during the session of the General Assembly.
The problem of ensuring that the voting in the General Assembly is conducted independently of voting in the Security Council.
The proposal arising from the choice of any particular ballot in the General Assembly or in the Security Council of more candidates than there are vacancies to be filled.

4. In discussion on problems (i) and (ii) the view was expressed that it would be a mistake to minimize the importance of the factor of geographic distribution. The general sense of the meeting was that any improvement should be on the basis that it is desirable to avoid as far as possible bargaining in connexion with the election of judges to the International Court. For this purpose it was thought to be desirable that the election of judges should be held on a day on which no other elections were being held. There was some difference of opinion as to whether the election of judges should be held at the beginning or at the end of a session. The balance of argument seemed [Page 432] to be in favour of holding the election early so that it might be complete before political pressures developed as they might do towards the end of the session.

5. With respect to point (ii) it was generally agreed that ideally the choice of candidates in the General Assembly and the Security Council should be carried out separately; that was the intention of the statute. It was pointed out, however, that it would be almost impossible in practice to ensure that the choice in one body was independent of the choice being made in the other. Communication either directly or indirectly between the two bodies could probably not be prevented. Moreover it was felt by some that it would be necessary for certain delegates to consult the group of States which they might be regarded as representing. In such circumstances it would be inevitable that the results of voting in one body would become known to the other body. A further point was made that rigid separation, even if it could be achieved, might result in undue delay.

6. It was agreed that the arrangements to be made to meet (so far as possible) points (i) and (ii) lay partly in the hands of the Secretariat, whose attention should be drawn to the matter.

7. As regards point (iii) the sense of the meeting was that the rules of procedure of the General Assembly and the provisional rules of procedure of the Security Council should be amended so as to solve the problem as to what should be done if a ballot in either body resulted in the choice of more candidates than the number of vacancies. This was subject to a reservation on the part of one Delegation on the ground that there might be political objection to any attempt to amend the provisional rules of procedure of the Security Council. The concrete solution of the problem was not discussed; it was appreciated that there might be several solutions but they could all be effected by amending the rules of procedure. It was agreed that it would be undesirable to attempt to amend the Statute of the International Court, and that this would in fact not be necessary. On the other hand it was pointed out that the actual amendments to the rules of procedure would require careful consideration in the light both of their technical and their practical implications. Accordingly the solution of the problem in point (iii) above would require further careful study.

8. It was agreed that a short record of the discussion at the meeting should be drawn up and circulated to those who had attended.

9. It was also agreed that a copy should be given informally to the Legal Department of the United Nations Secretariat.