Sebutinde elected International Court of Justice vice president

Justice Julia Sebutinde.  PHOTO/COURTESY/ICJ.   

What you need to know:

  • Before joining the ICJ, Sebutinde was a judge at the Special Court for Sierra Leone from 2005 to 2011.
  • Sebutinde's election comes days after her ruling on Gaza crisis left many dazed

Uganda’s Julia Sebutinde has been elected vice president of the International Court of Justice.
Sebutinde, 69, was elected by her peers to serve for three years having been a member of the Court since February 6, 2012, according to the Tuesday statement from the court’s registry. 

She will deputise Judge Nawaf Salam (Lebanon) who was elected president to also serve for three years.
Sebutinde's election comes days after her ruling on Gaza crisis left many dazed.
She's one of the two judges who voted mostly against the six emergency measures in response to South Africa’s genocide case against Israel, leaving many observers around the world dazed and confused.

Sebutinde cast the only dissenting vote against all measures by the 17-judge panel. Israel’s appointed ad-hoc judge, Aharon Barak, voted in favour of two and ruled against four measures, in the case closely watched around the world.
As the world’s highest court, the ICJ, provides advisory opinions on legal conundrums submitted by other UN organs or agencies, and also adjudicates legal disputes between states.

Track record

Before joining the ICJ, Sebutinde was a judge at the Special Court for Sierra Leone from 2005 to 2011.
Born on February 28, 1954, Sebutinde has a Doctorate of Laws, honoris causa, University of Edinburgh, U.K., for distinguished service in the field of international justice and human rights (2009); Master of Laws Degree with Distinction (LL.M.), University of Edinburgh, U.K which she got in 1990.

She graduated with Bachelor of Laws Degree (LL.B.) from Makerere University in 1977, a Post-Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice, Law Development Centre in 1978; Certificate in Legislative Drafting, University of Colombo, Sri Lanka in conjunction with the Commonwealth Fund for Technical Co-operation (CFTC) (1983); Certificate in Advanced Leadership Studies, Haggai Leadership Institute, Singapore (1998); Certificate in Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Skills, National Judicial College, University of Nevada, Reno, USA (1997).

Previous Judicial and Legal Positions
Judge of the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) (2005-2011); Presiding Judge of Trial Chamber II of the SCSL (2007-2008, 2010-2011), handling several high profile war crime trials including the Prosecutor v. Charles Ghankay Taylor; Judge of the High Court of Uganda with original and appellate jurisdiction in civil and criminal cases (1996-2011); Chairperson, Judicial Commission of Inquiry into Corruption in the Uganda Police Force (1999-2000); Chairperson, Judicial Commission of Inquiry into Mismanagement in the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (2001); Chairperson, Judicial Commission of Inquiry into Corruption in the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) (2002); Chairperson, Technology Planning Committee of the Uganda Judiciary (1998-2002); Legislative Consultant seconded by the Commonwealth Secretariat to the Republic of Namibia responsible for amendment and replacement of the country’s apartheid laws and training of Namibian legislative drafters (1991-1996); Principal State Attorney and Principal Parliamentary Counsel, Ministry of Justice, Uganda (1978-1990) and Legislative Consultant on the multilateral committees responsible for drafting and amendment of the treaties establishing the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the Intergovernmental Authority on Drought and Development (IGADD) (1980-1990); Member of the Uganda Bar and Advocate of the Courts of Judicature of Uganda since 1979.

Previous Academic Positions
Trainer and resource person on the International Civilian Peace keeping and Peace building Training Programme (IPT) of the Austrian Study Centre for Peace and Conflict Resolution, Stadtschlaining, Austria (2008-2011); Member of Advisory Board of the Research Centre on International Criminal Law and Justice, University of Copenhagen (2011); Lecturer/trainer at the International Law Institute of Uganda (ILI) under the auspices of the State University of New York (SUNY) (1997-2004); Trainer and resource person for the Jurisprudence of Equality Programme for East Africa in conjunction with the International Association of Women Judges (IAWJ), responsible for training of East African judges, magistrates and paralegals in the implementation of regional and international human rights instruments (1997-2004); Trainer and resource person at the Post-Graduate Bar Course, Law Development Centre of Uganda (1980-1990).

Other Positions/Honours
 Chancellor of the International Health Sciences University (IHSU), Uganda (2008-2011); Member, Commonwealth Association of Legislative Drafters (1980-2011); Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) (1996-2011); Member, National Association of Women Judges Uganda (NAWJU) (1996-2011); Member, International Association of Women Judges (IAWJ) (1996-2011); Member, Advocates International (AI) (1980-2011); Represented Uganda Women at the opening of the United Nations Decade for Women in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (1975); Chairperson, Board of Directors of the Acid Survivors Foundation Uganda (2000-2004); Recipient of the “Good Samaritan Award” at the Congress of Advocates International (2004); the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Uganda British Alumni Association (UBAA) (2006) and a Special Award of the Uganda Law Society in recognition of her “courageous and exemplary contribution to the promotion of justice in Uganda” (2001); Honouree of the American Biographical Institute in their seventh edition of “Who’s Who of the Professionals 2000”; Named one of “Top 100 Africans of the Year” in the Africa Almanac 2000.

Author of various papers and lectures 
“International Criminal Justice: Balancing Competing Interests: The Challenges Facing Defence Counsel and Counsel for Victims and Witnesses”, Keynote Address at the Eighth ICC Seminar of Counsel, The Hague (May 2010); “Security Sector Reform: Transitional Justice Instruments: A Chance for Women”, Stadtschlaining, Austria (November 2010); “Celebrating Ten Years of the Rome Statute: Does Uganda Have Reason to Join the Party?”, Abu Mayanja Memorial Lecture, Kampala, Uganda (September 2008); “The Importance of Outreach When Trials for War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity Are Conducted Away from the Country Where the Crimes Were Committed”, Institute for War and Peace Reporting, Hague chapter (April 2008); “Making Violence against Women Accountable: Case Study of Sierra Leone and Uganda”, Stadtschlaining, Austria (October 2008); “Advancing the Rule of Law in 21st Century Africa”, lecture given at the Fourth Global Convocation of Advocates International in Virginia, USA (November 2004); “Worth Your Salt: Combating Corruption”, lecture given at the South African Christian Leaders Conference in Pretoria, South Africa (July 2003).