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“A good emissary should be eminently knowledgeable, possessed of sharp intelligence, highly talented in oratory, capable of reading and anticipating the thought-process of the adversary, of great physical valour and resourcefulness, and very sincere and meticulous in conveying only what he is asked to convey on behalf of his master or the king.”
— Arya Chanakya, Chapter 5, Shloka 7
Mantra Yuddha is the term that was used to describe the diplomacy on war footing. Many interpret it as deception or intrigue but in real sense it is all about communicating effectively to attain the diplomatic objectives. When the election of Justice Dalveer Bhandari to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for a second term was announced many experts spoke about the changing world order and Bharat’s growing eminence while some in Bharat tried to undermine it with ‘not a big deal’ remark. If we go in the details of magnificent diplomacy exemplified by Bharat, this re-election gives us a different meaning about resurgent Bharat and display of tested diplomacy.
Though this is not the first time any Bharatiya judge would be there on the ICJ Bench, it is also a fact that in 2011 when Japanese Judge Hishashi Owada retired, leading to an Asian Vacancy, the then UPA Government had failed to even nominate a candidate for ICJ. After much furore, Justice Dalveer Bhandari was nominated by the Government of India and got him elected to ICJ on a casual vacancy which was not a regular full term but was for a remainder of 6 years.
This time the election for ICJ judges was not less than a nail biting cricket match, for which Bharat and the former colonial power UK were contesting diplomatically. Out of the total strength of fifteen judges of the ICJ, five are elected every three years. While the elections for four spots went smoothly with the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) and the UN Security Council (UNSC) voting in the same pattern, the fifth spot became contentious with Bharat and Britain fighting for the same and the General Assembly with overwhelming 2/3 majority (183 out of 193 votes) supporting the Bharat’s nominee while the Security Council voting in favour of the British candidate Christopher Greenwood. The UK wanted to use the rarely used conference mechanism, in which a joint panel of UNGA and UNSC elect the judge that was vociferously opposed by Bharat. For the first time ever in the history of ICJ, a UNSC Permanent Member has lost on a vote. The UK again for the first time will not have any judge on the panel.
This certainly reflects the realities of changing world order. The Veto Power of P5 could not block the democratic power of the UNGA. Bharat with diplomacy on war footing, in which Prime Minister, Foreign Minister and the entire team at the UN under the leadership of Permanent Representative Syed Akbaruddin toiled day and night to make this happen. The Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj herself spoke to 60 of her counterparts with positive message. This shows the intent and rigour to make a mark at the international level.
This is not the first time Modi-led NDA Government has shown this diplomatic acumen with a purpose. The election of Anirudha Rajput to International Law Commission (ILC) and Neeru Chadha to International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) are two recent examples where Bharat has used all possible diplomatic means to ensure nomination of its candidates. This is in
contrast with the Nehruvian self defeating decision of relinquishing the Permanent Seat in the UNSC, favouring China.
International organisations do not function in vacuum. Despite their high theoretical foundations, the actual functioning is guided by real power politics. Though the ICJ judge cannot favour any nation in addressing the case, having our representative there certainly ensures representation of point of view. While Bharat is striving hard to lead the developing world in trade negotiations and reclaiming paramount status in the Indo-Pacific region, this meticulous execution of age old mantra is a satisfying morale booster.