Advantage India in tied battle for international court

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Advantage India in tied battle for international court

The election for the fifth vacancy on the International Court of Justice remained deadlocked for the second day on Monday after neither candidate managed to wrap up the requisite numbers of votes in three hours of polling. But India’s Dalveer Bhandari ended the day in a much better place than his rival, Britain’s Christopher Greenwood.

Bhandari won 121 votes in the fifth and final round in the UN General Assembly, which was merely 7 short of what is called a “moral majority” of 128. The number represents two-thirds of the 193-member assembly, used as a yardstick before, according to UN watchers, to break a deadlocked vote such as this.

The logic, an Indian official explained on background, is that if a candidate was unable to secure the support of two-thirds of the body, he or she had lost the moral authority to stay in the race, and must, therefore, withdraw. While the British could, or not, take that line, the Indians seemed clear they were not quitting.

Winner must secure an absolute majority in the general assembly, which is 97 or more votes, as well the Security Council, where the magic mark is 8.

Bhandari won the general assembly in all five rounds, starting with 110 in the first. And Greenwood clung to the Security Council with an unchanging 9-5 lead.

Much is at stake in this election, and not just another term for the two candidates. India needs a victory in order to have Bhandari on the bench when the 15-member International Court of Justice hears in December its appeal in the case of Kulbhushan Jadhav, who has been accused by Pakistan of being an Indian spy and faces the death penalty.