Loss of ICJ judge is a failure of UK diplomacy

28 February 2018

The failure of the UK to secure the re-election of Sir Christopher Greenwood to the International Court of Justice was a serious foreign policy failure, says the Foreign Affairs Committee.

With the end of Sir Christopher Greenwood’s term this month, the International Court of Justice is without a UK judge for the first time since its creation in 1946.

The Report, published today, 2017 elections to the International Court of Justice, concludes that the lack of a UK judge is damaging to UK influence and the UK’s future foreign policy strategy. It is particularly regrettable given the increased significance of the UN for UK foreign policy, say MPs.

Chair's Comments

Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Tom Tugendhat MP, said:

"This failed campaign to re-elect a British judge to the position is deeply concerning. Lord Hannay raised concerns that the UK’s influence may be diminishing and described a so-called ‘trepidation index’ in which those around us are more concerned not to upset others than the UK. We hope this is not the case and call on the Government to evaluate our standing properly and think about how we must shape our actions to maintain and augment our ability to promote the interests of the British people and our allies. The FCO must ensure the UK’s position within the UN is not at risk.

"Worryingly, it appears this loss came as a surprise to the FCO. Ministers have assured the Committee that the Department will carry out a ‘comprehensive lessons learned exercise’. We urge ministers to share their findings with the Committee. With the UK’s international standing at stake, the FCO should be setting out exactly how they will address this setback."

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