Joan E. Donoghue elected as new ICJ Judge 10 Sep 2010
Joan Donoghue has been elected to replace Judge Thomas Buergenthal at the International Court of Justice.

On 9 September 2010 the United Nations Security Council and the General Assembly elected Joan E. Donoghue, the former Principal Deputy Legal Adviser in the US Department of State to become a Judge at the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

Donoghue replaces the seat left by Judge Thomas Buergenthal, who resigned from the Court with effect from 6 September 2010. Pursuant to Article 15 of the Statute of the Court, the elected judge will hold office for the reminder of Judge Buergenthal’s term, which will expire on 5 February 2015.

Donoghue was a State Department lawyer from 1984 to 1999 and again from 2005 to the present. In between, she served as deputy general counsel of the U.S. Treasury Department and as associate general counsel and then general counsel and corporate secretary for mortgage insurer Freddie Mac. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton described Donoghue as “judicious, fair, an extraordinary international legal counsel, and an excellent choice for the Court”.

Another ICJ judge was elected on 29 June 2010. Ms Xue Hanqin, a former Chinese diplomat and member of the International Law Commission, succeeds Judge Shi Jiuyong, who resigned on 28 May. With their appointment, they become only the second and third woman to serve as ICJ judges in the history of the Court. 

Election Process

The ICJ consists of 15 judges elected for a term of nine years each by the General Assembly and the Security Council. These organs vote simultaneously, but separately.  In order to ensure a measure of continuity in the composition of the Court, one third of the membership is renewed every three years. No two nationals from the same state can hold office at the same time.

Under article 10 of the ICJ Statute, those candidates who obtain an absolute majority (that is, more than 50 percent) of votes in both the General Assembly and in the Council are elected. A candidate must therefore obtain 97 votes in the General Assembly and eight votes in the Council. No distinction is made between the weight given to votes of permanent and non-permanent members of the Council.

According to Article 14 of the Statute, the Council met on 2 June to fix the date of the election to fill the vacancy after Buergenthal. It adopted resolution 1926 in which set 9 September as the day for the Council and the General Assembly to hold the election.

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