Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. has directed the Philippine Mission to the United Nations in New York to vote for the Chinese candidate to fill up one of the five soon-to-be-vacant judges’ seats in the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
“@DFAPHL @PHMissionNY You are instructed to cast the Philippine vote for the Chinese candidate to the International Court of Justice. That is your only clear instruction,” Locsin said in a tweet on Sunday, Nov. 8.
Locsin was apparently referring to the candidacy of Judge Xue Hanqin, a native of Shanghai, China who is currently the vice president of the ICJ.
The ICJ, which is scheduled to conduct its election on Nov. 11 (Nov. 12 in Manila), has jurisdiction over two types of cases: contentious cases between states in which the court produces binding rulings between states that agree, or have previously agreed, to submit to the ruling of the court; and advisory opinions, which provide reasoned, but non-binding, rulings on properly submitted questions of international law, usually at the request of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).
The 65-year-old Chinese bet to the ICJ took her masters and doctoral degrees at Columbia University in the US and is a law alumna of the premier Beijing University with a diploma in international law.
She previously served as Chinese ambassador to ASEAN, legal counsel of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China, Ambassador to the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and permanent representative to the Organization on the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, among others.
Aside from Xue, seven other nationals are vying for the five vacant ICJ seats, namely Julia Sebutinde (Uganda), Yuji Iwasawa (Japan), and Peter Tomka (Slovakia), Taoheed Olufemi Elias (Nigeria), Emmanuel Ugirashebuja (Rwanda), Maja Seršić (Croatia), and Georg Nolte (Germany).
This is not the first time Locsin has supported a Chinese candidate in an election to an international organization.
In March this year, the DFA secretary earned the dismay of Singapore Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan for choosing a Chinese nominee for the post of Director-General of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) over a Singaporean bet.
“I have always admired your transparency. But must say that I hope you will stand by your friends and partners in ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) with the same vigor. This is a crucial time to keep ASEAN united,” Balakrishnan said in a tweet in March this year.
Surprisingly, Locsin is not alone in supporting the candidacy of Xue to the ICJ.
Opinio Juris, a blog dedicated to the informed discussion of international law by and among academics, practitioners, and legal experts recently wrote that even the US has expressed its backing of the Chinese candidate.
“Another particular feature of this election season is the support expressed by the US for China’s candidate. The US group responsible for ICJ nominations, chaired by the incumbent legal advisor of the State Department, explicitly endorsed the candidacy of Judge Xue,” said a blog posted on Opinio Juris’ official website.
The US support to Xue, added Opinio Juris, is strikingly in contrast to its campaign against the election of a Chinese candidate to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) last September.
“On that front, the US is leading a very unusual campaign against the election of the Chinese candidate. Given Beijing’s record in the South China Sea, the US State Department has said that electing a Chinese judge to ITLOS would be ‘like hiring an arsonist to run the Fire Department,’” Opinio Juris added in its blog.