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The Security Council and the General Assembly today elected Xue Hanqin to fill a vacancy in the United Nations International Court of Justice (ICJ), while the Council separately extended the terms of judges of the UN war crimes tribunals for the 1994 genocide in Rwanda and the 1990s conflicts in the former Yugoslavia.

The Council and the General Assembly each voted to elect Ms. Hanqin, who comes from China, to replace Thomas Buergenthal, who resigned.

Established in 1945 under the UN Charter, the ICJ settles legal disputes between States and gives advisory opinions on legal questions that have been referred to it by authorized UN organs or specialized agencies. It is based in The Hague and is also known as the World Court.

Judges are chosen on the basis of their qualifications, not on the basis of nationality, and care is taken to ensure that the principal legal systems of the world are represented. No two judges can be from the same country. They cannot engage in any other occupation during their term of office.

Meanwhile, the terms of two permanent judges of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) – Mehmet Güney of Turkey and Andrésia Vaz of Senegal, who are members of the appeals chamber – were extended by the Security Council until 31 December 2012 or until the completion of the cases to which they are assigned.

Five permanent judges and members of the trial chamber had their terms extended until 31 December 2011 or until they completed cases assigned to them. They are Charles Michael Denis Byron (Saint Kitts and Nevis), Khalida Rachid Khan (Pakistan), Arlette Ramaroson (Madagascar), William Sekule (Tanzania) and Bakhtiyar Tuzmulakhamedov (Russia).

The Council also extended the terms of nine ad litem judges – who are limited to particular cases – who are members of the trial chamber until 31 December 2011 or until they completed their assigned cases. They are Aydin Sefa Akay (Turkey), Florence Rita Arrey (Cameroon), Solomy Balungi Bossa (Uganda), Vagn Joensen (Denmark), Gberdao Gustave Kam (Burkina Faso), Lee Gacugia Muthoga (Kenya), Seon Ki Park (Republic of Korea), Mparany Mamy Richard Rajohnson (Madagascar) and Emile Francis Short (Ghana).

The Council urged States, especially countries in the Africa's Great Lakes region, to step up their efforts to help ICTR bring to justice key indicted suspects Felicien Kabuga, Augustin Bizimana, Protais Mpiranya, among other suspects sought by the tribunal.

Meanwhile, Council members also adopted a resolution extended the terms in office of 13 permanent and 10 ad litem judges with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).

The permanent judges whose terms were extended are: Carmel Agius (Malta), Liu Daqun (China), Theodor Meron (United States), Fausto Pocar (Italy), Patrick Robinson (Jamaica), Jean-Claude Antonetti (France), Guy Delvoie (Belgium), Burton Hall (the Bahamas), Christoph Flügge (Germany), O-Gon Kwan (Republic of Korea), Bakone Justice Moloto (South Africa), Howard Morrison (United Kingdom) and Alphons Orie (the Netherlands).

The ad litem judges whose terms were extended are: Melville Baird (Trinidad and Tobago), Pedro David (Argentina), Elizabeth Gwaunza (Zimbabwe), Frederik Harhoff (Denmark), Flavia Lattanzi (Italy), Antoine Kesia-Mbe Mindua (Democratic Republic of the Congo), Prisca Matimba Nyambe (Zambia), Michèle Picard (France), Árpád Prandler (Hungary) and Stefan Trechsel (Switzerland).

Accra / Ghana/ Africa / Modernghana.com