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06 NOVEMBER 2008
SENATOR SANTIAGO PUTS UP GOOD FIGHT IN BID FOR SEAT IN ICJ
NEW YORK—Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago's bid for a seat in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) came to an unsuccessful end on Thursday (Friday morning in Manila) but not after the Philippine candidate came up with a good fight that forced voting to go on for the entire day.
The Philippine Mission to the United Nations reported that Senator Santiago came in strong during the initial voting in the morning but had to yield the fifth and final seat in the international court to Somalia during the fourth round of balloting early in the evening.
Ambassador Hilario G. Davide Jr., Philippine Permanent Representative to the United Nations, who along with Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto G. Romulo, led Filipino diplomats in the final stretch of the yearlong campaign, said the Philippines still emerged victorious despite the setback even as he lauded Senator Santiago for accepting the nomination to become the second Filipino to serve in the ICJ.
"This is still a victory for the Philippines," Ambassador Davide said. "We may have not won the seat but our campaign heightened the awareness of the international community on the need for gender balance and empowerment of women in the world's major judicial organ."
"Senator Santiago has proved herself worthy of the campaign and has heightened the respect of the international community for herself and for her country," Ambassador Davide said. "Her candidature had aimed to achieve a representation in the Court of the form of civilization of countries in the Southeast Asian region and the mixed legal system of civil and common law, which is the sixth largest in the world."
Ambassador Davide said Senator Santiago, who sought to replicate the election to the ICJ of former Supreme Court Chief Justice Cesar Bengson in 1966, emerged in the top five in the first round of balloting in the General Assembly but was not able to muster enough votes in the Security Council, thus forcing both UN organs to go into subsequent rounds of voting to determine who among the four remaining candidates will fill up the last vacant seat.
Under ICJ rules, a candidate must obtain the absolute majority of votes in both the 15-member Security Council and the 192-member General Assembly to be declared a winner.
Elected during the first round of balloting in both the General Assembly and the Security Council were Christopher Greenwood of the United Kingdom; Ronny Abraham of France; Antonio Augusto Cancado Trindade of Brazil; and reelectionist Awn Shawkat Al-Khasawneh of Jordan. Elected in the fourth and final round of balloting was Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf of Somalia.
"It was a valiant campaign and an honorable loss," Ambassador Davide said, noting that for Senator Santiago to be in the top five during the first round despite the fact that she was up against a reelectionist vice president of the court and for voting to go all the way to the fourth round was an indication that she was a strong contender for the position.
Ambassador Davide said that Senator Santiago, as the lone female in the race, was able to count on the support of Member-States who saw the need to ensure gender balance in the court to deprive the four African candidates of the required number of votes in the first round of balloting in the General Assembly.
"In the end, however, it was regional representation and not gender balance that determined the final outcome," the former Supreme Court Chief Justice, who oversaw the Philippine campaign, said. "Member-States felt that Africa somehow needed to be represented there at the Hague since Asia was already able to secure a seat with the reelection of Jordan in the first round." ###
ELMER G. CATO Second Secretary & Press Officer Philippine Mission to the United Nations 556 Fifth Avenue, Fifth Floor New York, New York 10036 Tel. No. 212.764.1300 Extension 38
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