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Tuks professor makes history as he heads to international court

The UP professor is the first South African to serve as judge of the ICJ, widely known as the World Court.

A University of Pretoria (UP) professor of international law is in the history books after being elected to serve as a judge in the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

The achievement has been welcomed by President Cyril Ramaphosa who offered warm congratulations to Prof Dire Tladi.

The ICJ is the principal judicial organ and one of six principal bodies of the United Nations (UN). Its role is to settle debates on international law, and legal disputes submitted to it by member states and to give advisory opinions on legal questions referred to it by authorised United Nations organs and specialised agencies.

“Prof Tladi’s election as judge of the ICJ is an outstanding personal achievement which the nation shares with great pride,” said Ramaphosa.

“We appreciate the confidence expressed by the UN in Prof Tladi’s capabilities.

“He becomes the newest member of a fraternity of South Africans globally who are in positions of service to the international community and making important contributions to the better world we seek to build. We wish Prof Tladi well as he prepares to contribute to the court and its jurisprudence from the Palace of Peace in The Hague, the Netherlands.”

In May, the Cabinet endorsed Tladi’s nomination to the Permanent Court of Arbitration, and on November 9, the President announced the outcome of the UN General Assembly and Security Council’s rigorous voting rounds.

The 15 judges of the court are elected to the bench for a nine-year term.

UP Future Africa congratulated Tladi on his historic appointment.

“Prof Tladi’s election marks a historic moment as he becomes the first South African to serve as a judge of the ICJ ”

Director of Future Africa Dr Heide Hackmann, welcomed Tladi’s appointment as a milestone in the pursuit of global peace and justice.

“We are extremely proud of Prof Tladi,” she said.

“His appointment as the first South African judge at the ICJ, will undoubtedly raise the important voice of Africa and contribute to shaping a safer and more equitable world for all.

“We look forward to witnessing the positive influence his expertise will have and commit our support to him in taking on this important international role.”

Tladi expressed a mix of emotions.

“I am filled with mixed emotions – excitement, elation, and a touch of nervousness. I’m overwhelmed with gratitude because so many people played a role in this journey,” he said.

“The entire experience has been humbling, especially navigating through the challenges of an intense campaign, and juggling various responsibilities over the past few months. The announcement and the tense process have undoubtedly taken a toll, but I’m absolutely ecstatic and profoundly humbled by the experience.”

He has held several key positions within the field of international law, including serving as chair of the International Law Commission, an organ of the UN renowned for its contributions to the ICJ. He has provided his invaluable expertise as a legal adviser to the South African mission in New York and as a special adviser to the South African foreign minister.

Tladi has published well over 100 academic publications – articles, books and chapters in books. He holds a BLC LLB (cum laude) from the University of Pretoria, an LLM from the University of Connecticut and a PhD from Erasmus University Rotterdam. He was a member of the United Nations (UN) International Law Commission from 2012 to 2022.

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