On Wednesday, Neeru Chadha, Law expert, has been elected as a judge of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea. She will the first woman to serve on the 21-member court. She won a nine-year term on the tribunal that adjudicates disputes arising over the UNCLOS, UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, and the agreements between countries that give its jurisdiction. The tribunal is based in Hamburg, Germany and was setup in 1996. Neeru Chadha was the only candidate to be elected in the first round from the Asian Pacific Group. There were around 168 countries that are parties to UNCLOS voted.
Judge P Chandrasekhara Rao, who served as the President of the tribunal from 1999 to 2002, completed his second nine-year-term this year. He is the Indian currently on the tribunal. Neeru Chadha was the first woman to be the chief legal adviser to the Indian government. Her career includes stints as an additional secretary in the External Affairs Ministry and a counsellor at India's UN Mission. She is a legal consultant to the Indian Government and has experience of ITLOS from the outside of the bench. She successfully represented the country before the tribunal in the case brought by Italy demanding the release of two of its marines charged by India with killing two Indian fishermen.
The tribunal refused to order the release of the Indian fishermen. In the maritime borders dispute between India and Bangladesh, she represented New Delhi at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague. The verdict awarding Bangladesh 19,467 sq.km of the contested area in the Bay of Bengal was a victory for Dhaka.
Neeru has also represented India in a frivolous case brought in the International Court of Justice (ICJ). The case was brought up by the Marshall Islands over what it said was New Delhi's failure to end the nuclear race. The ICJ dismissed the Marshall Island's case.
She holds a degree from the University of Michigan Law School. The other judges of the tribunals are Elsa Kelly of Argentina and Liesbeth Lijnzaad of the Netherlands. They were elected with Neeru Chadha on Wednesday. Kriangsak Kittichaisaree of Thailand was elected by the Asia Pacific Group in the second round of voting.
In elections to another international legal post, Aniruddha Rajput was elected by the UN General Assembly to the International Law Commission last November.
Judge Dalveer Bhandari's term ends next February at the International Court of Justice. The judges have a nine-year term, but he was elected to a six-year term to fill a vacancy.