Wednesday, 31 October 1990
Dáil Éireann Debate
31. Mr. Garland asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the reason for the nomination of the Indian Chief Justice, Mr. R. S. Pathak, to the International Court of Justice; if his attention had been drawn, prior to the nomination, that Chief Justice Pathak was responsible for imposing a highly unjust settlement on the victims of the world's worst chemical disaster when toxic chemicals leaked in Bhopal, India killing 10,000 people and injuring hundreds of thousands; if he will outline his role in the nomination; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
79. Mr. Gilmore asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs (a) if he has received representations from Earthwatch concerning the proposed election of Judge Pathak of India to the International Court of Justice, (b) the nature of these representations, (c) the members of the Irish National Group who nominated Judge Pathak and (d) if the Government will now withhold support for Judge Pathak, in view of his role in the Bhopal case in India.
The procedure for election of judges to the International Court of Justice is laid down in the Statute of the court. It provides for the nomination of candidates by independent national groups and for the election of the judges by the General Assembly and the Security Council from the panel of nominees thus constituted.
 The nomination of Judge Pathak was by the Irish National Group. This group is independent of the Government in its deliberations and decisions on nominations. Neither I nor the Government have any role in nominations. Nomination by the Irish group does not have any implications for the support which the Government may or may not give to any particular candidate in the election.
Representations have been made about the nomination by various groups, including Earthwatch, that they believe that Judge Pathak, in a decision arising out of the accident in Bhopal, imposed an unfair and inadequate settlement on the victims.
The Irish National Group for the nomination of candidates for election to the International Court of Justice is comprised of the Attorney General, Mr. Justice Hamilton (President of the High Court), Mr. Frederick Morris, SC, and Ms. Skinner, Legal Adviser to the Department of Foreign Affairs.
As regards withholding support for Judge Pathak, the Deputy will be aware that these elections are by secret ballot. I do not propose, therefore, to indicate those candidates which the Government intends to support in the election. The decision thereon, which has not yet been considered, will be taken closer to the date of the election. However, I can assure the Deputy that all relevant information in relation to the various candidates and the representations made will be taken into account when deciding which candidates to support.
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