<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The re-election of Indian nominee Justice Dalveer Bhandari to the last seat of the world court has sown India’s strategic connect as well as the new world order based on democratic processes and principles.Ahead of the election, where Bhandari was pitted against the British nominee Christopher Greenwood, India pulled all stops to ensure his victory with the External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj contacting some of her 100 counterparts mostly from African and Latin American countries. Officials at her ministry were also in constant touch with the envoy of developing countries stationed in New Delhi.“They had all ensured support, but were skeptical whether India will be able to pull support at the 15-member United Nations Security Council (UNSC) dominated by world powers,” a source said.For a victory, it was necessary to enlist majority both at the UN General Assembly as well as at the UNSC.After former Navy official Kulbhushan Jadhav’s case (currently on a death row in Pakistan) reached to the world court, there was an understanding that having an Indian judge in the ICJ was a political priority. Insiders said that till early 2017, the South Block had almost made up mind to demit the Indian seat in the current election cycle, as they had assessed there were not many chances for their nominee to get re-elected with Britain and other countries joining the race. Bhandari’s nomination was officially backed by India, along with Australia, Bangladesh, Colombia, and Israel.In a carefully crafted strategy involving Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Swaraj, the National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar and India’s representative at the UN Syed Akbaruddin, India sought to enlist the support of countries raising the issue of democratic process.“We convinced countries that the democratic process needs to play its full course in both the Security Council and the General Assembly and there should not be an intervention or adoption of a process that has never been used before or the one that undermines the voice of the majority,” officials said.The strategy clicked with a number of developing countries pledging their support to India against the nominee of a former colonial power and member of the UNSC. Admitting that there were pulls, pressures, and allurements, asking India to withdraw its candidature in favour of powerful UK, but it was firmly put down. In a typical disruptions style of PM Modi, the team overlooking the election ruled out any compromise asserting that the candidate who enjoys the overwhelming support of the General Assembly members can be the only be a legitimate candidate to go through. As the lobbying has intensified, the campaign took an ugly turn with Greenwood’s supporters trying to break Bhandari’s growing support in the Assembly by carrying out a stealth campaign to make it appear that India was giving up, according to diplomats.But Indian officials maintained that voting in the General Assembly which overwhelmingly favoured India is reflective of the new global order, which is not pleasant to the world powers. In earlier rounds Bhandari has nearly a two-thirds majority with 121 votes in the 193-member Assembly, while Greenwood has a slender majority of nine in the 15-member Council. Both the 193-member UNGA and the 15-member UNSC have to vote independently to elect the members of the ICJ.A beaming Syed Akbaruddin admitted that a huge diplomatic effort had gone into electing Bhandari to the world court. “There was a crucial meet before the vote. We put forward our view and stuck to it. It was apparent that vote will be in our favour. We are grateful that the UK judge recused and recognised that the Indian judge was doing good in UNGA,” he said in New York.Foreign minister Sushma Swaraj congratulated Justice Bhandari this morning. “Congratulations to Justice Dalveer Bhandari on his re-election as a Judge of the ICJ. Huge efforts by Team – MEA. Syed Akbaruddin, our Permanent Representative in UN deserves a special mention,” she said in a tweet.President Ram Nath Kovind also congratulated Bhandari, posting on Twitter. “Congratulations to Justice Dalveer Bhandari for his re-election to the ICJ. A diplomatic milestone for India.”India officially began the process of re-nominating Bhandari in late June, which kick-started the lobbying process to get him on back on the bench in The Hague’s Peace Palace. With the ICJ to adjudicate the case of Kulbhushan Jadhav over the next few years, the perception in New Delhi is that having an Indian judge on the bench is a national priority. Pakistan, the other party in the ‘Jadhav Case’, also has the right to nominate an ad-hoc judge to the bench since the ICJ has a serving Indian judge, but not one with Pakistani nationality.Sources here said that the lobbying had already begun at the highest level at the G-20 meeting in Hamburg in the first week of July, when Modi solicited support for Bhandari in all his diplomatic interactions with foreign leaders. He also got support from BRICS leaders during the summit in Xiamen, China, and then raised the issue again during his bilateral trip to Myanmar, while calling for just international order.Swaraj, who led an Indian delegation at the UNGA’s annual session, stayed in New York last September for seven days. Her top priority was to directly speak to her counterparts and get as many committed votes for Bhandari as possible. As one source here confirmed that there was a very high level of effort being put in by the Indian government. “Instructions had gone out to ensure that Bhandari’s candidature finds mentions at India’s diplomatic interactions, whether they involve just diplomats or the country’s top leaders,” they said.Plans were also drawn up to draft personal letters from the prime minister to his counterparts. Diplomats were also sent to the critical countries to garner support. India decided on Bhandari’s re-nomination only a few weeks before the July 3 deadline. This despite that India’s seat for Asia Pacific group already had a contender in the form of Lebanon’s permanent representative, Nawaf Salam. Egypt, currently a non-permanent UNSC member was the first to announce that it will support Bhandari. In return, India agreed to back the Egyptian candidate for the post of director general of UNESCO.The current diplomatic push for the world court seat reminded the 2010 elections for the UNSC non-permanent seat when the government of Manmohan Singh also pulled all stops to win the election. Due to those efforts, India won the seat that it held for two years with an overwhelming number of countries including Pakistan endorsing its sole candidature from the Asian group. India received the highest number of votes — 187 out of 192 — among all countries in the fray.


Inside Story: Here’s how India ensured Dalveer Bhandari’s re-election as ICJ judge