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ICJ Post: Museveni Campaigns for Justice Julia Sebutinde as Rwanda Fronts Own Candidate

President Museveni has rallied the international community to throw its weight behind Justice Julia Sebutinde who is seeking re-election as judge of the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

“Later this year an important election will be held for judges of the International Court of Justice, one of the key organs of our organization,” said Museveni in a speech sent to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday evening.

“We are also proud that Judge Julia Sebutinde, from Uganda, the first African woman to serve on the Court, who has served the Court with distinction, will be up for re-election for a second and final term,” said the President.

“I commend to you Judge Julia Sebutinde and request your support for re-election to her second and final mandate on the International Court of Justice,” he emphasised.

Justice Sebutinde was first elected to the judicial seat in 2011 as the choice for Africa, becoming the first African woman to sit on the court.

Her first stint runs up to 2021, but elections for the judicial seat are scheduled for later this year.

Rwanda last year shocked the diplomatic community when it fronted Dr Emmanuel Ugirashebuja, the president of the East African Court of Justice (EACJ), to challenge justice Sebutinde for the African slot at the Hague-based court.

Interestingly, Justice Sebutinde’s second term had already been endorsed by the African Union Commission (AUC) candidate’s committee.

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Africa always has one place on the bench of ICJ, the United Nations’ principal judicial organ based in The Hague.

Officials told ChimpReports on Wednesday that Rwanda fronted Ugirashebuja due to the bad blood between the two countries.

Notably, Rwanda is not among the Members of the United Nations which have made declarations recognizing as compulsory the jurisdiction of ICJ.

For example, in 2006, ICJ ruled that it lacked jurisdiction to consider an application filed in May 2002 by the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) against neighbouring Rwanda.

In its complaint, DRC had accused Rwanda of massive, serious and flagrant violations of human rights and international humanitarian law during its 1998-2002 occupation of the eastern part of the DRC.

The court ruled that it could not “entertain a dispute unless the states (such as Rwanda) concerned have consented to its jurisdiction.”

Diplomats at the African Union wondered why Rwanda wanted to sit on ICJ bench yet it rejected the court’s jurisdiction.

Rwandan officials say Sebutinde has served since 2011 and should step down for other African judges including their own – Ugirashebuja.

In his address to the UN General Assembly, Museveni said “Uganda accepted the compulsory jurisdiction of the World Court without any reservation, way back in March 1963, as a new member of the United Nations family.”

He said this demonstrates Uganda’s goodwill and commitment to the principles of accountability and international law.

The ICJ is mandated to settle, in accordance with international law, legal disputes submitted by States, and to give advisory opinions on legal questions referred to it by authorized UN organs and specialized agencies.

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