Senior African judge wins second term on top world court

Justice Julia Sebutinde of Uganda is set for a second term on the UN’s International Court of Justice, one of a 15-member bench drawn from jurists round the world. She had faced competition for the slot from contenders put up by Nigeria, Croatia and, because of tensions between the two countries, from Rwanda as well. Justice Sebutinde has extensive international and African experience. She is regarded as probably Africa's most senior woman judge, and her re-appointment last week was widely expected.

Justice Julia Sebutinde from Uganda has been confirmed for a second nine-year term on the International Court of Justice. She joined the United Nation’s ICJ in February 2012, becoming the first African woman on that bench.

Judge Sebutinde, who is 66, studied law at Makerere University and worked in the Ministry of Justice, Uganda between 1978 and 1990. She has, since then, worked in the UK and Namibia and was given an honorary doctorate by the University of Edinburgh to acknowledge her work on international justice. Her further experience includes an inquiry into mismanagement of Uganda’s defence force and an inquiry into corruption in that country’s revenue services.

In 2005 she was appointed to the UN’s special court on Sierra Leone and she has significant experience with international war crime trials. Uganda media report that Judge Sebutinde easily won the contest, with 139 votes to the 87 polled by Rwanda’s candidate, and Nigeria’s 31.

Rwanda’s nominee was the president of the East African Court of Justice, Emmanuel Ugirashebuja. It was speculated that Rwanda put up this senior candidate for the ICJ post, in opposition to Judge Sebutinde, because of tensions between Rwanda and Uganda.