UN General Assembly President Miroslav Lajcak has held several rounds of consultations at the UN headquarters in New York ahead of next week's crucial election to break the deadlock between India and the UK for the last seat at the International Court of Justice.
India's nominee Dalveer Bhandari and Britain's Christopher Greenwood, who are seeking re-election at the Hague-based ICJ, are locked in a major battle as 11 rounds of elections held in both the UN General Assembly and UN Security Council have failed to yield results.
The UNGA and the UNSC are scheduled to meet Monday afternoon for the 12th round of voting. The meeting will be presided over by Lajcak.
Under the election procedures, the balloting would be held simultaneously by the Assembly and the Council.
In the successive rounds of elections spread over two days in the last two weeks, Mr Bhandari, 70, enjoyed nearly two-third majority in the 193-member Assembly.
Mr Greenwood, 62, received nine votes as against five by Mr Bhandari in the Security Council. As per ICJ rules, the candidates need to gain majority in both the General assembly and Security Council to be declared elected.
The Hague-based ICJ has 15 judges on its bench.
Elections for one-third of its judges are held every three years.
While four of the ICJ judges were elected early this month when they received the required majority of votes in both the General Assembly (193 members) and the 15-membered Security Council.
Earlier today, Lajcak's spokesperson Brenden Varma told reporters about the meetings. "The president will meet today with the president of the Security Council, Ambassador Sebastiano Cardi of Italy, as well as the UN Office of Legal Affairs and the UN Department for General Assembly and Conference Management," he told reporters at the UN headquarters in New York.
Asked to elaborate on the president's consultations and the nature of the current impasse, Mr Varma responded that the General Assembly was planning to meet on Monday to resume the elections, and no deadlines had been missed at this stage. "In that regard, it is premature to speak about any sort of impasse," he said.
"It would be good to wait until Monday to see how the meeting goes," the spokesperson added.
Regarding the consultations, Mr Varma said the president would be discussing the continuation of the elections. "Because the candidates need to secure majorities in both the General Assembly and Security Council, coordination between the two organs, including with respect to the timing of the elections, is helpful," he said.
"The president is a big proponent of dialogue, which includes talking to various interlocutors about issues and ensuring that everyone is on the same page," he said.
The consultations could be seen in that context, Mr Varma said. Meanwhile, the US refused to respond to questions on ICJ elections in New York. "We do not preview our votes at the UN," a State
Department Spokesperson told PTI.
The US is not only a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, but also it has significant influence over the members of the body.
Its stand on the issue is not known publicly. India is aiming at getting two-thirds of the votes in the UN General Assembly on Monday.
Senior Congress leader and former UN official Shashi Tharoor has called on the Security Council "to respect the mandate of the General Assembly".