Chile Eboe-Osuji Makes History As He Becomes 1st Nigerian ICC Judge


Nigeria has produced its first Judge of the International Criminal Court, ICC after 15 rounds of voting in New York leading to the election by the United Nations late on Friday of the Mr. Chile Eboe-Osuji, 49, an international legal practitioner.


According to the ICC's final tally of the voting which had started on Monday December 12, Nigeria got 102 votes to pick up the final vacant seat, and also eventually got the highest number of votes cast for any of the 18 contestants.

Eboe-Osuji, who is enrolled both at the Nigerian and Canadian bars is currently the Legal Advisor of the UN High Commission for Human Rights and before that he was the Head of Chambers for the UN International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda. This is his second attempt at the ICC Judgeship having stood also in 2008 ICC elections.

But it was a long road for him and Nigeria to clinch one of the 6 vacant seats at the world's permanent criminal court after 18 candidates from 18 countries started the contest on Monday afternoon at the UN headquarters.

Of the 6 vacant seats only two were available for countries in Africa and Western Europe and other states to enter, since the 4 other vacant seats were reserved for Asian countries and the Latin American and Caribbean groups at the UN. In previous elections to the ICC judgeships, groups of Africa and the Western Europe and co nations had their own reserved seats already.

In the event the first 4 winners came from those two groups of Asian states and the Latin America/Caribbean states

Regarding the other two generally opened seats, the fight was a straight one between 7 African countries, ( namely Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Democratic Republic of Congo, Niger, Sierra Leone, Mauritius, and the Central African Republic, CAR) and two leading western nations, France and United Kingdom.

Although the African Union had endorsed only Nigeria and Mauritius for the election, the 5 other nations from the continent still went on to exercise their rights to nominate candidates for the election, thereby splitting African votes in 7 places and making it impossible for the early emergence of any African nation in the earlier voting rounds.

Eventually most of the African nations however pulled out of the race sooner, after the first round where Nigeria led the African pack with 34, followed by Mauritius with 27, CAR 1, Sierra Leone 3, DRC 12, Niger 7, and Burkina Faso 10. In fact only Nigeria, Mauritius and CAR stood among the African nations in the second round.

Commenting on the election which took the entire week, the Nigerian diplomat at the UN Permanent Mission in charge of Election, Mr. Richards Adejola praised the Permanent Representative of Nigeria at the UN, Prof Joy Ogwu for mobilizing other UN members behind Nigeria and also commended the candidate, Eboe-Osuji for his hard work at campaigning.

Said Adejola, who is known as Nigeria's campaign manager at the UN, "my work was made easier with the good product that Dr. Eboe-Osuji is, and he helped a great deal working together with us even at midnight at times."

Adejola disclosed that top federal government officials from Abuja including the Permanent Secretaries from Foreign Affairs and Justice Ministries were at the election working hard at mobilizing support for Nigeria's candidate all through the 15 rounds that lasted from Monday to Friday.

DETAILS of the voting rounds

Between the African votes, there was at the first round 94 votes, if which it had gone to one candidate it should have produced an African winner right from the first round since 77 was the required majority at the first round.

Subsequent rounds then left Nigeria confronting Mauritius, which also stood in the race for several rounds despite the fact that Nigeria clearly had the better chances of winning.

While Nigeria was duking it out with Mauritius among the African votes, United Kingdom and France were also in a tussle until the 13th round when the UK candidate emerged the 5th winner for the 5th vacant ICC judgeship seat.

Before that round 13 Nigeria had clearly established its leadership ahead of both Mauritius and France with 63 votes in round 12. But only Dominican Republic, one of the Latin group nations emerged at that round with 77 votes, followed by UK with 66. Nigeria came third ahead of France 46 and Mauritius 34.

It was after round 13 that Mauritius eventually pulled out after it had sent emails to UN members that it would stay in the race all the way to the end. Observers say had Mauritius not stepped down at that round, the rule would have been applied to knock it out since it was then a clear fight between Nigeria and France.

That was how Nigeria and France alone plunged into the 14th round causing a stalemate when Nigeria had 68 votes and France had 45, but neither got the needed 75 votes required 2/3 majority.

Eventually France opted out at that point making Nigeria to stand alone for the final round which was necessary since the candidate must still receive the 2/3 majority. At that 15th round, Nigeria got 102 votes while 12 abstained.



A Very Short Biography

AGE: 49 years (born 2 September 1962).

PLACE OF BIRTH: A├▒ara, Imo, Nigeria.

PROFESSION: Barrister, since 1986.

FAMILY STATUS: Married, with three children.

CALLS TO BAR: (1) Nigeria; (2) Ontario, Canada; and, (3) British Columbia, Canada.

ACADEMIC LEGAL EDUCATION: (1) Doctor of Laws (PhD) [in international criminal law], University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, the Netherlands; (2) Master of Laws (LLM), McGill University, Montr├ęal, Canada; (3) Canadian Bachelor of Laws (LLB) Equivalency Studies, McGill University (for Certificate of Qualification of the Canadian Federation of Law Societies); (4) Bachelor of Laws (LLB), University of Calabar, Nigeria.

PROFESSIONAL LEGAL EDUCATION: (1) Barrister-at-Law Degree, Law Society of British Columbia (Canada); (2) Barrister-at-Law Degree, Law Society of Upper Canada; (3) Barrister-at-Law Degree, Council of Legal Education of Nigeria.

SUMMARY OF EMPLOYMENT HISTORY: (1) CURRENTLY: (i) The Legal Advisor to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights; (ii) Principal Appeals Counsel for the Prosecution in the Case of Charles Taylor (former President of Liberia), Office of the Prosecutor, Special Court for Sierra Leone. (2) FORMERLY:(i) Head of Chambers (i.e. the principal judicial legal officer), International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR); (ii) Senior Appeals Counsel, Special Court for Sierra Leone; (iii) Counsel, Borden Ladner Gervais LLP, Ottawa, Canada; (iv) Senior Legal Officer in Chambers, ICTR; (v) Senior Trial Counsel for the Prosecution, ICTR; (vi) Prosecution Counsel, ICTR; (vii) Litigation Partner, Eboe-Osuji & Adetunji, Toronto, Canada; (viii) Litigation Counsel, Robinson Hinkson, Toronto, Canada; (ix) Litigation Associate, Russell & DuMoulin, Vancouver, Canada; (x) Litigation Associate, Ugochuku & Co, Port Harcourt, Nigeria.

ACADEMIC EMPLOYMENT: Former lecturer in international criminal law, Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa, Canada.

SUMMARY OF LEGAL SCHOLARSHIP: C Eboe-Osuji (ed), Protecting Humanity [Leyden, Martinus Nijhoff: 2010]; C Eboe-Osuji, Modern International Law and Sexual Violence in International Armed Conflicts[Leyden, Martinus Nijhoff: forthcoming 2011]; numerous articles and book chapters and guest lectures.