Dire Tladi sworn in as South Africa’s first permanent judge at ICJ

South Africa’s first permanent judge to the International Criminal Court (ICJ) Dire Tladi was on Tuesday sworn in to start his nine-year term at the court based in The Hague, Netherlands.

Tladi, an accomplished jurist and academic, took the declaration along with three other new members of the court. They are Romania’s Bogdan-Lucian Aurescu, the United States’ Sarah Hull Cleveland and Mexico’s Juan Manuel Gómez Robledo Verduzco.

“I solemnly declare that I will perform my duties and exercise my powers as a judge honourably, faithfully, impartially and conscientiously,” said Tladi, marking the commencement of his duty as a permanent judge.  

They were elected by the General Assembly and the Security Council of the United Nations November 9 2023.

Among the youngest judges

Tladi is the first South African to serve as a permanent judge in the history of the 78-year-old court. He’s also the second to have been nominated after Judge John Dugard’s unsuccessful campaign in the early 2000s.

Dugard, a professor of international law, has served as an ad hoc judge at ICJ. The CIJ is also colloquially known as the World Court.

The 48-year-old Tladi effectively becomes one of the youngest permanent judges to be elected to the court.

The ICJ comprises 15 judges elected by the UN General Assembly and Security Council for a nine-year term. Tladi replaces Mohamed Bennouna of Morocco whose term ends in February. 

Tladi, who has a PhD in law, has worked in South Africa’s department of international relations and cooperation between 2006 and 2014 as the principal state law adviser and legal adviser to the South African Permanent Mission.

The court plays a crucial role in settling legal disputes among nations in accordance with international law prescripts.

It was revealed at the ceremony that there are currently 21 dockets before the court relating to issues which are contentious and advisory nature.

World Court grows in stature

In addition, the court has been witnessing an increase in the number of incidental proceedings brought by states on an urgent basis.


The court recently ruled in favour of South Africa in the case it brought against Israel’s actions in Gaza. The ICJ on January 26 ordered Israel to take measures to prevent acts of genocide in Gaza, Palestine.

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