INSIDE STORY: How Justice Julia Sebutinde Defeated Rwanda, Nigeria Candidates in ICJ Top Job Race

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Justice Julia Sebutinde has been re-elected for a second term at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), Chimp Corps report.

Sebutinde was among five other judges elected by the United Nations General Assembly and Security Council after two rounds of voting.

The Ugandan judge got 139 votes in the second round, defeating Rwanda which got 87 votes and Nigeria 31.

“I am delighted to announce the reelection of Justice Julia Sebutinde to the ICJ,” said Uganda’s envoy to United Nations Amb Adonia Ayebare.

“I am privileged to have led Justice Sebutinde’s election campaign for the first and second term,” Adonia told ChimpReports on Thursday night from New York.

He said Sebutinde’s election shows “she’s the most trusted by UN member states among other excellent candidates.”

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 would have run up to 2021, but elections for the judicial seat had to be held 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.

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

Rwanda reportedly fronted Ugirashebuja due to the bad blood between the two countries.

During today’s election, Rwanda got 97 votes – the threshold for election to the bench.

But because Uganda had 124 votes with Nigeria trailing with 56 votes, a second round of voting took place to determine Africa’s sole candidate to the bench.

In the second round, Rwanda lost 10 votes.

Nigeria’s votes also reduced in the second round by 25 votes.

The Security Council had already voted for Sebutinde against candidates from Rwanda and Nigeria.

ICJ judges are voted by both the General Assembly and the Security Council.

This means even if Rwanda and Nigeria had won in the General Assembly, fresh elections had to be held in the Security Council.

That’s how Sebutinde emerged victorious.

It’s understood Amb Adonia has been quietly mobilizing the Caribbean Ambassadors to throw their weight behind Sebutinde.

Adonia recently campaigned for Ugandan judge Solome Balungi Bossa’s election to the International Criminal Court.

President Museveni recently rallied the international community to throw its weight behind Justice Sebutinde.

“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 earlier this year.

“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.


Julia Sebutinde is a Ugandan jurist currently serving as a judge on the International Court of Justice (ICJ), and is the first African woman to sit on the World Court since 2012.

Ms. Sebutinde is also the Chancellor of the International Health Sciences University, in Kampala, a position she has held since 2008.

Academic Career

Judge Sebutinde studied law at Makerere University, obtaining the degree of Bachelor of Laws (LLB) in 1977.

She then received the Diploma in Legal Practice from the Law Development Center in Kampala, in 1978.

In 1991 Julia Sebutinde graduated from the University of Edinburgh with a degree of Master of Laws (LLM).

In 2009, in recognition of her body of work and contribution to International justice, she was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Laws (LLD) by the University of Edinburgh.

Political Career

Julia Sebutinde first worked in the Ministry of Justice in the Government of Uganda from 1978 until 1990.

After graduating from the University of Edinburgh in 1991, she worked in the Ministry of the Commonwealth in the United Kingdom.

She later joined the Ministry of Justice in the Republic of Namibia. In 1996, she was appointed Judge of the High Court of Uganda leading the commissions of inquiry of the government departments of Corruption in the Uganda Police, Corruption in the Uganda People’s Defence Force, and Corruption in the Uganda Revenue Authority.

In 2005 Judge Sebutinde was appointed to the Special Court on Sierra Leone established by the United Nations, and went on serving as Presiding Judge in Courtroom II.

Throughout her career, Judge Julia Sebutinde has held numerous other posts as Chancellor of the International Health Sciences University (2008-2011); Member of the Commonwealth Association of Legislative Drafters (1980-2011); Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Population Fund (1996-2011);  Member of National Association of Women Judges Uganda (1996-2011).

Source – ChimpReports

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