Japanese international law professor Yuji Iwasawa LL.M. ’78 was elected a judge of the International Court of Justice, the U.N.’s principal judicial body.
Elected on June 22, 2018, he fills a vacancy left by 85-year-old Hisashi Owada who retired on June 7. He won the votes of 184 countries of the 193 member nations in the U.N. General Assembly, and the support of all 15 member countries on the UN Security Council. Iwasawa will serve the remainder of his predecessor’s nine-year term, which runs until Feb. 5, 2021. He will join 14 other judges at the International Court of Justice, including Nawaf Salam LL.M. ’91.
“The International Court of Justice is a very important international court that makes great contributions to the clarification and development of international law,” Iwasawa said. “It is a great honor that I was elected to this august court.”
Iwasawa is currently a professor of international law at the University of Tokyo graduate school, and he most recently served as chairperson of the U.N. Human Rights Committee, a group of independent experts which monitors countries’ compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
In addition to chairing the U.N. Human Rights Committee, Iwasawa served as president of the Japanese Society of International Law, vice chair of the London-based International Law Association, and as judge and vice president of the Asian Development Bank Administrative Tribunal in Manila, Philippines.
“Professor Iwasawa is an expert on international law who is highly appreciated internationally,” Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono said at a press conference announcing his nomination in February. “He also has extensive practical experience. Japan believes he is the best choice as a candidate for an ICJ judge.”
Iwasawa’s publications include “Domestic Application of International Law,” “Dispute Settlement in the WTO” and “Third Parties Before International Tribunals: The ICJ and the WTO.”
While with the Human Rights Committee, Iwasawa served as a foreign adviser for the American Law Institute’s “Restatement (Fourth) of the Foreign Relations Law of the United States.”
The ICJ is comprised of 15 judges elected to nine-year terms by the U.N. General Assembly and the U.N. Security Council from a list of nominees by national groups in the Permanent Court of Arbitration. The PCA is an intergovernmental organization that functions as an arbitral tribunal for disputes that arise from international agreements.
Iwasawa holds an LL.B. from the University of Tokyo Faculty of Law, an LL.M. from Harvard Law School and a S.J.D. from the University of Virginia.