India's Dalveer Bhandari was today re-elected to the Hague-based International Court of Justice (ICJ) with more than two-thirds of the UN members backing him, forcing Britain to withdraw its candidate amidst high drama at the UN.
Addressing Members of Parliament in the House of Commons, UK foreign secretary Boris Johnson dismissed the idea that the defeat of the British candidate, Christopher Greenwood, was a "failure of British democracy".
"I congratulate the Indian judge on his election. It is a fine thing that another common law judge has joined the International Court of Justice," he said.
When asked what it symbolises for British diplomacy, he added: "It has been the long-standing objective of UK foreign policy to support India in the United Nations".
India's nominee Bhandari received 183-193 votes in the General Assembly and secured all the 15 votes in the Security Council after separate and simultaneous elections were held at the UN headquarters in New York.
The defeat of Mr Greenwood at the world court has been widely seen as a sign of the UK's diminishing global stature and it was no surprise that the issue was raised in the Commons as Mr Johnson and his Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) team addressed questions from British MPs on a range of foreign policy affairs.
Labour MP Lillian Greenwood also raised the issue of human rights in Kashmir, asking the FCO what steps had been taken by the UK government to engage with India and Pakistan on the issue.
But we maintain that it is an issue to be resolved between the governments of India and Pakistan... we continue to monitor situation very carefully," said Foreign Office minister Rory Stewart.
Earlier, Britain's Permanent Representative to the United Nations Matthew Rycroft, in a statement said it decided to withdraw Chris Greenwood as a candidate for re-election as a Judge of the International Court of Justice.
"The UK has concluded that it is wrong to continue to take up the valuable time of the Security Council and the UN General Assembly with further rounds of elections," he said.
"If the UK could not win in this run-off, then we are pleased that it is a close friend like India that has done so instead. We will continue to cooperate closely with India, here in the United Nations and globally," he said.
Mr Rycroft said that the UK will continue to support the work of the ICJ, "in line with our commitment to the importance of the rule of law in the UN system and in the international community more generally".
Britain's withdrawal from the election to the prestigious world court would mean that there will not be a British judge on the UN's most powerful court for the first time in its history.
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