A HISTORY MADE: A SOMALI JUDGE IS ELECTED AS VP OF THE INTERNATIONAL COURT OF JUSTICE
Judge Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf was elected as Vice-President by his peers for a three-year at the International Court of Justice, which is based in the Hague, the Netherlands.
Judge Abdulqawi A. Yusuf
The International Court of Justice (ICJ), which is composed of 15 Members, is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations. It delivers judgments regarding disputes among states and gives advisory opinions to the United Nations’ organs and some other agencies. These judgments are final and binding.
Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf was first elected judge at the ICJ in February 2009 against all odds. This is a big feat for Somalia, a country that has been going through a difficult political period since 1991 and is negatively lumped as one of the world’s “failed states.”
It is the general norm that any candidate for such a prestigious position as judge at the ICJ needs a strong diplomatic and financial backing of his or her native country. Despite a feeble—or nonexistent—support from Somalia, Abdulqawi managed to win this very competitive position as judge at the International Court on February 2009. Even a mainstream progressive magazine like The Economist was puzzled by Abdulqawi’s unexpected success. This first victory was due to his impressive record both in academia and legal practice in the international legal arena.
Abdulqawi has been Assistant Professor, Faculté de Droit, at Université de Genève between 1981 and 1983, and since then a visiting lecturer on public international law and international economic law at various European universities in Italy, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Greece. He is also the Founder and General Editor of the African Yearbook of International Law.
In addition with his academic activities, Abdulqawi held top legal positions in international organizations including:
Legal Adviser and Director of the Office of International Standards and Legal Affairs at UNESCO between March 2001 and until January 2009.
Assistant Director General and Special Adviser on African Affairs from March 1998 to February 2001, and Legal Adviser and Director of the Legal Service from August 1994 to March 1998) at UNIDO.
Representative and Head, New York Office (July 1992-July 1994), and head, Legal Policies Section, Trade & Technology Program, Geneva (July 1988-June 1992) at UNCTAD.
Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf has been the Chairman/Dean of the National Somalia University Public Law Department from 1976 to 1978 and advised the Somalia government at that time regarding international affairs. He has also been Somalia’s representative to the Third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea (1975-1981).
Every Somali around the world should be proud of Judge Abdulqawi’s remarkable achievement in a time when Somalia is experiencing a difficult ordeal.
The International Court Justice, also known as the “World Court” is the only court of a universal character with general jurisdiction. The ICJ should not be confused notably with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia ICTY, an ad hoc court created by the Security Council, or the International Criminal Court (ICC, the first permanent international criminal court, established by treaty, which does not belong to the United Nations system) also established in the Hague (The Netherlands).