Chaloka Beyani fails to go International Court of Justice (ICJ) because of Zambians foreign policy- Dr Sishuwa sishuwa


Dr Sishuwa sishuwa writes

Chaloka Beyani fails to go ICJ because of Zambians foreign policy

Zambia’s new foreign policy claims its first victim

On 9 November 2023, the UN General Assembly and Security Council elected five judges to serve on the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for a nine-year term, starting February 2024. The ICJ is the UN’s top court and settles disputes between member States.

In this election, #Zambia fielded Chaloka Beyani, one of the country’s finest minds and a Professor of International Law at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Chaloka lost an election he should have easily won. Those elected are from Australia, Romania, United States, Mexico, and South Africa. The losing candidates are from Zambia, Russia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Egypt.

It has now emerged that Chaloka lost because of Zambia’s ill-conceived foreign policy choices. These include abstaining on the recent Palestinian/Gaza UN General Assembly resolution, withdrawing from a pending African sponsored ICJ advisory opinion matter, the country’s reported plans to sponsor a resolution to grant Israel an African Union observer status, and support for the removal of Palestine as a beneficiary of UNESCO programmes. To be elected, a member (country) needs to secure an absolute majority in both the General Assembly (97 votes) and Security Council (8 votes).

Chaloka – an exceptionally qualified and outstanding candidate on all accounts – failed to obtain enough support for one reason: the deeply embarrassing, anti-human rights, anti-peace, pro-colonialism, and pro-war positions that Zambia, the country of Kenneth Kaunda, now takes on serious international issues. All these new policies run counter to Zambia’s traditional and forward-looking foreign policy positions whose foundations were laid by Kaunda. By departing from or abandoning its previously inviolable traditional foreign policy position, Zambia is today earning itself isolation in southern Africa, across the continent and the Global South.

Chaloka should have easily won the ICJ election. Unfortunately, in such settings, UN member States vote for the country rather than the individual candidate. The outcome of the ICJ election is not a rejection of Chaloka; it is a rejection of what Zambia’s new and strange foreign policy. (In August this year, the Zambian government was warned that its foreign policy dramatic shift risked ruining Chaloka’s election prospects but they did not change course!). Ironically, even the Western countries, whose foreign policy Zambia is now adopting and aligning itself with, did not vote for Chaloka.

For everything Chaloka has worked for and accomplished in his professional life, it took his own government to undo!


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