Hans Corell, the UN chief legal adviser and lead negotiator between the world body and Cambodia to establish a long-awaited Khmer Rouge tribunal, failed in his bid on Monday for election to the International Court of Justice.
UN Undersecretary-General Corell took sixth place in the vote by the 191-member General Assembly and the 15-member Security Council to elect five new judges to the world court based in The Hague, Netherlands, The Associated Press reported.
Hisashi Owada of Japan, Shi Jiuyong of China, Peter Tomka of Slovakia, Abdul Koroma of Sierra Leone and Bruno Simma of Germany were all elected to serve nine-year terms at the court, the AP reported.
News that Corell was not elected will likely dampen the mood among Cambodian officials who had hoped his appointment to the world court would remove him “gracefully” from Khmer Rouge trial negotiations.
Corell’s handling of Khmer Rouge trial negotiations has long been criticized by Phnom Penh’s negotiating team.
The UN decision to withdraw from almost four years of trial negotiations in February—which Corell indicated was the result of Cambodia’s lack of will to deliver a credible tribunal—was roundly criticized by foreign embassies and some UN officials.
Former US ambassador to Cambodia Kent Wiedemann later blasted Corell and characterized his assessment that Cambodia was not committed to holding a tribunal as tantamount to misleading the UN.
Other diplomats criticized Corell’s handling of the trial talks, adding that his removal would likely lead to speedier progress in seeing former leaders of the Khmer Rouge face justice.
In March, UN Human Rights Envoy Peter Leuprecht also said he regretted Corell’s decision to withdraw from the negotiations, a move that Leuprecht said did not have support within the UN.
“I haven’t seen one country so far that has come out in support of this decision,” Leuprecht told a news conference.