HomeForeign JurisdictionJudge Sebutinde of Ugandan Takes Over as ICJ Vice-President for Three Years

Judge Sebutinde of Ugandan Takes Over as ICJ Vice-President for Three Years


International Court of Justice judge Julia Sebutinde, who voted against all emergency measures ordered by the World Court for Israel to undertake in the Gaza war, including one which compels the Jewish state to ensure provision of aid, has been elected as the court’s vice-president.

Sebutinde was in the spotlight last month after rejecting the six orders the court made against Israel in South Africa’s application in which it accused the Jewish state of violating the Genocide Convention, saying thousands of civilians had died because of military operations in Gaza since Hamas attacks on Israel on October 7.

The ICJ ordered that Israel ensure immediate provision of basic services and humanitarian assistance to Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and ensure its military does not commit any acts of genocide.

The court announced on Tuesday that Sebutinde was elected vice-president for three years. Lebanon-born judge Nawaf Salam takes over as ICJ judge-president from Joan Donoghue.

“Judge Sebutinde was today elected vice-president of the International Court of Justice by her peers, for a term of three years. Vice-president Sebutinde has been a member of the court since February 6 2012,” the statement from the court read.

Sebutinde has been an ICJ judge for more than a decade. According to the ICJ, the Ugandan-born judge has expertise in war crimes cases and handled several high-profile war crime trials including the prosecution of former Liberian politician Charles Taylor.

The Ugandan dominated international headlines last month with her dissenting opinion against the court’s ruling in South Africa vs Israel case. Of the 17 judges, Sebutinde was the only one who voted against all the measures granted by the court

The court’s main judgment contained quotes by Israeli leaders: “Minister Yoav Gallant stated, speaking to Israeli troops on the Gaza border, ‘I have released all restraints … You saw what we are fighting against. We are fighting human animals. This is the Isis of Gaza. This is what we are fighting against … Gaza won’t return to what it was before. There will be no Hamas. We will eliminate everything. If it doesn’t take one day, it will take a week, it will take weeks or even months, we will reach all places’.”

South Africa, during oral presentations last month, argued that the statements, including that of Gallant, showed genocidal intent by the Israeli government against Palestinians in Gaza.

However, Sebutinde said the Israeli leaders were misunderstood and the statements were directed at Hamas.

She argued the genocidal intent allegations were invalid because Israel “warns” civilians of military operations in Gaza.

“I agree that any genocidal intent alleged by the applicant is negated by Israel’s restricted and targeted attacks of legitimate military targets in Gaza; its mitigation of civilian harm by warning them through leaflets, radio messages and telephone calls of impending attacks; and its facilitation of humanitarian assistance.”

Times Live

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