Dire Tladi, the first South African to be appointed permanent judge in the International Court of Justice (ICJ), will sit for his first case to be heard in the court on Monday, February 19.
This was after he was sworn in as a judge of the ICJ on Tuesday. The case, which is a request for an advisory opinion on “legal consequences arising from the policies and practices of Israel in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem’’, is one of the 21 cases that are pending before the ICJ.
Among other cases that he will hear are an advisory opinion on climate change whose sitting date is yet to be announced. Sunday World understands that the matter is about the obligations of states under international law to prevent climate change.
The list of pending cases also shows that there are other genocide cases before the court, including one involving Gambia versus Myanmar and two involving racial discrimination between Azerbaijan and Armenia.
Speaking to Sunday World in a telephonic interview from his office in The Hague, Tladi said he was relieved that the formalities were over and that he could get on with the definitive role of his career as a lawyer.
Tladi said there were a number of cases that were pending that he thought were substantively interesting.
“The advisory opinion on the occupied Palestine territories is one of them. It is about Palestine and Israel but broader than just genocide; it is about the whole situation and the lawfulness or not of the situation.
“There are a lot more rules that are at play; questions of self-determination, questions of the use of force; questions of occupation, international humanitarian law,” said Tladi, who was born in Ga-Rankuwa, north of Pretoria, and bred in Mahikeng, North West. Tladi’s historic election as permanent judge at the ICJ, also presented a unique set of considerations for South Africa in its landmark case against Israel.
Department of International Relations and Cooperation spokesperson, Clayson Monyela, told this newspaper this week that South Africa, after extensive consultations, decided against including Tladi in any process in the case in which he will sit as a judge. “It is traditionally not done,” said Monyela. “It was not a good idea.”
Judge Dikgang Moseneke was appointed ad hoc judge. In its preliminary ruling, the ICJ found in favour of South Africa, ordering Israel to “take all measures” to prevent genocide in Gaza after South Africa accused Israel of violating international laws on genocide.
Tladi, the youngest on the 15-member panel of permanent judges of the court, watched the hearing of the case on TV in his living room. He was still in Gauteng, busy with the final preparations to move to The Hague the following week.
He was elected to the ICJ by the General Assembly and the Security Council of the United Nations, on November 6. He was sworn in along with three
other new judges; Romania’s Bogdan-Lucian Aurescu, the US’s Sarah Hull Cleveland and Mexico’s Juan Manuel Gómez Robledo Verduzco.
The 48-year-old former professor of international law at the University of Pretoria is the youngest permanent judge on the current bench and the
second youngest in the 78-year-old history of the ICJ.
“Being the youngest also means I’m the most junior of the judges,” he said, explaining the pecking order of the UN’s highest court that adjudicates on matters between its member states.
Asked whether, he would buy a bicycle, as it is one of the most popular modes of transport in the Netherlands, Tladi gave a resounding “no”.