Lebanon’s UN ambassador elected to World Court

by Paula Naoufal

11 November 2017 | 15:50

Source: by Annahar

  • by Paula Naoufal
  • Source: Annahar
  • Last update: 11 November 2017 | 15:50

Lebanon’s UN ambassador, Dr. Nawaf Salam (left). (Photo obtained from Lebanon UN Misson's official Twitter account)

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s UN Ambassador, Dr. Nawaf Salam, was elected to the World Court in competitive voting Friday.

The General Assembly and Security Council elected four judges on Nov. 9, from an initial pool of six candidates to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), amongst them is Dr. Salam, Ambassador to the Permanent Mission of Lebanon to the United Nations.

After five rounds of simultaneous voting the Assembly and the Council re-elected three current judges, Ronny Abraham (France) and Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf (Somalia), and Antônio Augusto Cançado Trindade (Brazil), while also choosing one new justice, Nawaf Salam (Lebanon). Their terms start on the February 6, of 2018.

Dr. Fadlo Khoury, President of the American University of Beirut (AUB), said in a statement, “Congratulations to Lebanon’s longtime ambassador on his election to the International Court of Justice. I am proud of my colleague.”

Dr. Salam is a former member of the AUB faculty.

While Samantha Power, former US ambassador to the UN, said in a statement, “Hearty congratulations to Lebanon’s ambassador to the UN, Dr. Nawaf Salam on his election to be a judge on the International Court of Justice. “

ICJ is the primary judicial branch of the United Nations and is considered one the most esteemed courts in the world. The court, which is located in the Peace Palace in The Hague, Netherlands, primarily settles legal disputes submitted to it by member states and offers advisory opinions on legal questions submitted the UN’s international branches, agencies, and the UN General Assembly.

The ICJ is composed of fifteen judges elected to a nine-year terms by the UN General Assembly and the UN Security Council from a list of people nominated by the national groups in the Permanent Court of Arbitration. Also, the court states that no two judges may be nationals of the same country.

According to Article 9 of its charter, the membership of the Court is essential to represent the "main forms of civilization and of the principal legal systems of the world" which include common law, civil law and socialist law - the term for now post-communist law.

There is an informal agreement that the seats will be distributed by geographic regions so that there are five seats for Western countries, three for Asian states (which includes the Middle East), two for Eastern European states, three for African states, and two for Latin American and Caribbean states.

Dr. Salam received 135 votes from the General Assembly and 12 votes from the Security Council. A Lebanese Judge has been elected only once to the ICJ, in 1965, since the court’s establishment in 1945.

Dr. Salam obtained his diploma from “Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales” in Paris, to later pursue a “Diplôme d'Etudes Approfondies” in the “Institute D'etudes Politiques de Paris”, —popularly known as Science Po. In 1979, he acquired his Doctorate in history from the University of Sorbonne Paris. In 1984, he obtained his Bachelor’s in law from the Lebanese University and later attained an LLM from Harvard Law School in Massachusetts. Finally, in 1992, he accomplished a “Doctorat d'Etat, in Science Po, Paris.

He is fluent in three languages - Arabic, English, French.

Dr. Salam has been serving as the Ambassador and permanent representative of Lebanon for the permanent mission of Lebanon to the UN since 2007. 

Before serving at the Lebanese Mission, Dr. Salam was the Chair of the Political Studies and Public Administration Department at the American University of Beirut. He also practiced private law, and was a foreign legal consultant at Edwards and Angell in Boston. He was also a visiting researcher at Harvard law school and associate researcher for the historic center of contemporary Islam in Sorbonne.

Dr. Salam also served as a member and Rapporteur of the Lebanese National Electoral Law Commission tasked with preparing the draft of a new electoral law for Lebanon (2005-2006).

Additionally, he was a member of the Lebanese National Commission of UNESCO (2000-2004) and a former member of the Executive Bureau of the Socio-Economic Council of the Republic of Lebanon (1999-2002). He also served as Member of the Board of Trustees of the Joseph and Laure Moghaizel Foundation for Democracy and Human Rights.

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