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At UN After 33 Days, Uganda Tops Sierra Leone for ICJ Spot, Not Only AU But India Had Impact?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 13, update -- It took 33 days at the UN to find a winner for the last International Court of Justice judgeship, between the incumbent from Sierra Leone and the challenger from Uganda, but Tuesday it was decided in Uganda's favor.

  Back on November 10, and since, the Security Council and General Assembly could not come to an agreement if the fifth seat would go to Sierra Leonean Abdul Koroma or Ugandan Julia Sebutinde, who served on the Special Court for Sierra Leone.

  She was unable on November 10 to garner the needed eight votes in the Security Council, despite getting 109 in the General Assembly.

  Koroma, meanwhile, had 10 votes in the Security Council, but only 88 in the General Assembly, less than the 97 needed. Inner City Press wondered at the time at how a sitting judge could fall below 50% support in the General Assembly.

  While Sierra Leone and Uganda never came to an agreement, on December 13 a pro-Sebutinde diplomat assured Inner City Press that Sierra Leone would lose.

  This confidence seemed to be based on the African Union's endorsement, which was enblazoned on Sebutinde's campaign flier on December 13.

  Lo and beyond when the votes were held, Sebutinde got the requisite 97 votes in the General Assembly, while increasing her vote count in the Security Council from seven to nine.  As well as mentioning the AU, India was named to Inner City Press as having responsibility for the solution by multiple sources, none of them Indian. The decisive action was called impressive, and telling.

Sebutinde in Charles Taylor trial, AU and Indian solution not (yet) shown

   The sources also opined that the US had been against Sebutinde, because of her positions the the Charles Taylor litigation. This finds some support in a Wikileaked cable of April 15, 2009, classified by the legal counsellor at the American embassy in the Netherlands Denise Manning, which said "contacts in Prosecution and Registry speculate that Justice [Julia] Sebutinde may have a timing agenda."
  The prosecutor at the Special Court on Sierra Leone at the time, Stephen Rapp, is in New York this week as part of the US' "observer" mission to the International Criminal Court's Assembly of States Parties. Click here for Inner City Press' interim story on those elections, and watch this site.

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

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