The United Nations Security Council and the General Assembly on Friday elected Brazilian scholar Leonardo Nemer Caldeira Brant to the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
The ICJ is made up of 15 judges elected to nine-year terms. The seat up for grabs was previously held by Antônio Augusto Cançado Trindade, also Brazilian, who died in May 2022 at the age of 74. Mr. Brant was chosen to serve the remainder of Mr. Trindade’s term, which ends in February 2027.
Mr. Brant obtained 13 votes in the UN Security Council, which comprises 15 member states. Two delegations voted for Argentinian nominee Marcelo Gustavo Kohen. When electing ICJ judges, no distinction is made between permanent and non-permanent members — that is, there is no veto power.
Meeting concurrently with the Security Council, the UN General Assembly today also picked Mr. Brant. He obtained 121 votes, against 67 for Mr. Kohen.
Brazil’s Foreign Affairs Ministry celebrated the decision. “The demonstration results, in addition to the candidate’s qualities, the recognition of Brazil’s international performance in favor of the peaceful settlement of disputes and in defense of international law,” the ministry said in a statement.
Mr. Brant has been a professor of international law at the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG) since 1994. He founded the International Law Center in Brazil (Cedin) in 2000 and has been the organization’s president ever since. In 2003, he served as a legal officer in the ICJ.
Nominations for the ICJ are made by “national groups” made up of judges and legal scholars, rather than by governments. Brazil’s national group nominated two candidates for the ICJ seat: Mr. Brant and professor Paulo Borba Casella.
However, the Brazilian government reportedly boycotted the nomination of Mr. Casella — who is an overt critic of the Jair Bolsonaro administration — instead only campaigning for Mr. Brant.
Without support, Mr. Casella obtained no votes.
As the main judicial body of the United Nations, the ICJ settles legal disputes between member states and gives advisory opinions to the UN and its agencies. The ICJ does not try individuals — that is the job of the International Criminal Court (ICC), also headquartered in The Hague, Netherlands.
Last year, indigenous leaders asked the ICC to investigate President Bolsonaro for “genocide” and “ecocide.” Government detractors have also requested the court to proceed with charges based on the final report of the Brazilian Senate’s Covid inquiry — which accused President Bolsonaro of crimes against humanity.
The ICC told CNN, however, that the case is outside of its jurisdiction.