On February 5, 2009, the terms of five judges on the International Court of Justice will expire. Earlier this year, the U.N. Legal Counsel, on behalf of the Secretary-General, requested nominations to fill those seats in accordance with the provisions of the ICJ Statute. Nine individuals were nominated (list of candidates here; Secretary-General's memorandum here). They include: Ronny Abraham (France), Awn Shawkat Al-Khasawneh (Jordan), Sayeman Bula-Bula (Democratic Republic of the Congo), Antônio Augusto Cançado Trindade (Brazil), Miriam Defensor-Santiago (Philippines), Christopher Greenwood (United Kingdom), Maurice Kamto (Cameroon), Rafeal Nieto-Navia (Colombia), and Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf (Somalia). Only Judges Abraham and Al-Khasawneh are seeking re-election. The other judges whose terms are expiring - Judges Rosalyn Higgins, Gonzalo Parra-Aranguren, and Raymond Ranjeva - are stepping aside.
Seats on the ICJ are rigidly, albeit informally, allocated in two ways. First, each of the five permanent members of the Security Council has (unofficially) a permanent seat. Second, the remaining ten seats of the fifteen-member body are (also unofficially) allocated by region. Thus, though nine individuals were nominated for five seats, in fact, once the unofficial rules kick in, only certain seats are really up for grabs. This year, two seats for permanent members of the Council and three regional seats (one for Africa, one for Asia, and one for Latin America) are up for election. Assuming these distributions don't change, it's clear that Abraham and Greenwood (who are running "unopposed") will be elected. For the remaining three seats, there are multiple nominations. Cançado Trindade and Nieto-Navia will compete for the Latin American seat being vacated by Judge Parra-Aranguren; Bula-Bula, Kamto, and Yusuf will compete for the African seat currently held by Judge Ranjeva; and Defensor-Santiago and Al-Khasawneh will contest the Asian seat currently held by the latter. I anticipate that Al-Khasawneh, Cançado Trindade, and Kamto will be chosen, but we'll see.