[JURIST] The UN General Assembly and Security Council [official websites] on Thursday elected [ICJ press release, PDF; UN press release] five new judges to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) [official website]. Judges Awn Shawkat Al-Khasawneh of Jordan, currently the vice president of the court, and Ronny Abraham [ICJ biographies] of France were re-elected. Antonio Augusto Cancado Trindade of Brazil, Christopher Greenwood [faculty profile] of the United Kingdom, and Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf of Somalia were newly elected [ICJ biographies]. Their nine-year term will begin on February 6, 2009. Greenwood's nomination had been somewhat controversial [Guardian report] in light of his authorship of a 2002 memo to the British government [text] saying that an invasion of Iraq by the US and UK was legal under existing UN resolutions. AFP has more.
The ICJ is composed of 15 judges, and one third of the membership is elected every three years. The court was established in June 1945 as the judicial branch of the UN. Its role is "to settle, in accordance with international law, legal disputes submitted to it by States and to give advisory opinions on legal questions referred to it by authorized United Nations organs and specialized agencies."