In an unexpected result of UN General Assembly and Security Council election for five of the 15 members of the International Court of Justice at The Hague, Britain has for the first time since the ICJ was set up not had a Judge on the panel. Their candidate has lost dismally.
Britain loses ICJ Seat in Humiliation
In fact, British candidate for the ICJ, Christopher Greenwood was forced to concede defeat after a gruelling series of elections at the UN, which he kept losing at the General Assembly. In the last round, he lost 121 against 68 amongst member States. He then withdrew, allowing the Indian Judge Dalveer Bhandari to take the seat, although India had not yet won the Security Council part of the election. His withdrawal is generally understood to have been in order to avoid further humiliation for the former “great” colonial power that Britain was.
Chistopher Greenwood pays price of his legal advice on Iraq War
The campaign against the British candidate was political. It was based, rightly, on the fact that he was the very barrister who advised the Blair Government that the war against Iraq would not be illegal. That was in 2003. Everyone in the world now believes it was, in fact, illegal. So despite heavy pressure of all kinds from the UK and its big brother ally, the USA, Greenwood lost.
The importance of this loss coming hard on the heels of the African union and Mauritius’ victory 94-15 on the issue of Chagos Sovereignty cannot be easily estimated. The double defeat gives food for thought to all those cynics who believe that everything is set in concrete on the Diego Garcia issues of sovereignty and the re-uniting of Mauritius’ peoples and territory, military base closure and the right of return.
British Press on ICJ seat loss
Here are some quotations from the British Press, to give an idea of the bombshell effect of the news of Greenwood’s defeat.
“No British judge on world court for first time in its 71-year history.” says a big title in The Guardian, 20 November, 2017. “The decision to bow to mounting opposition within the UN general assembly is a humiliating blow to British international prestige. ... In a separate vote at the UN general assembly last June, the UK was defeated 94-15 when a Mauritian-backed resolution questioning the disputed legal status of the UK’s hold over the Chagos Islands in the Indian Ocean was referred to the ICJ.”
The Independent has a similar line on 21 November, 2017: “The UK has withdrawn its candidate from election to the UN International Court of Justice. It will be the first time Britain will not have a judge on the UN’s most powerful court for the first time in its history. ... The move comes after the UK suffered a humiliating blow to its diplomatic prestige last week ...”
And The Daily Mail 21 November, 2017 reads, “A Tory MP accused Boris Johnson of a ‘major failure of diplomacy’ today after Britain lost its seat on the UN’s international court for the first time in its 71-year history.
“Robert Jenrick, an aide to Home Secretary Amber Rudd, condemned the failure of Britain to secure a second nine-year term for Judge Christopher Greenwood at The Hague.
“Indian Dalveer Bhandari looked set to win and he will now take the seat after Britain dropped out....
“It is very rare for junior members of the Government to criticize ministers publicly.
“He [the Tory MP Jenrick] said: ‘There is no hiding that the loss of a British judge on the ICJ is a major failure for British diplomacy.’
Past Crimes can be Hidden but only for Some Time
Whenever the issue of the illegality of the war against Iraq is brought up, Britain’s reputation takes a blow. The suffering of Iraqi people until today is a direct result of the bombardment of Iraq. So Christopher Greenwood, as the man who pushed in favour of the war, has been made to pay what is a small price for Britain’s role in this illegal war.
Just to give an idea of the conflict in Britain, it is worth remembering the death of Dr. David Kelly.
He was the scientist and also UN weapons expert, who had begun to raise concerns about the integrity of the documents on which the basis for war was laid. He was found dead four months after bringing this up through the BBC. Now nearly 15 years on, no-one is convinced of the suicide verdict of the Lord Hutton Inquiry, which somehow “trumped” the need for a proper Inquest.
In 2010, a former UN colleague of Kelly’s, Richard Spertzel, who was head of the UN Biological Section wrote to the Attorney General Dominic Grieve, to inform him that Dr. Kelly had been told he was on a “hit list”. In addition, also in 2010, the detective who found Dr. Kelly’s body, Graham Coe, told the Mail on Sunday there was less blood than was recorded at the Hutton enquiry, confirming other witnesses’ statements about “very little blood”. He also said there was a third man present (as well as his partner) which he had not told the Hutton Inquiry. The fact that no proper inquest has been held is astounding. Curiously, Lord Hutton took the well-nigh irrevocable decision that Kelly’s post-mortem report and photographs of his body should remain a state secret for ... 70 years!
So, just as secrecy was used by the British State to steal Chagos and then to sub-lease one of the stolen islands Diego Garcia to the receiver, the USA military, secrecy has continued to be used to hide misdeeds of the bourgeois state over the Iraq war.
And today, just as Mauritius and the African union are bringing the crimes over Chagos to the light of day, making Britain and the USA pay the price of losing two UN votes they lobbied like mad for, so Christopher Greenwood is being made to pay part of the price for that vicious war that Bush and Blair adventured into, covering up for 70 years the post mortem report of a brave scientist.