Chinese judge re-elected to UN Court for Law of Sea

Updated: 2011-06-16 08:27
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UNITED NATIONS - Chinese judge Gao Zhiguo Wednesday was re-elected by an overwhelming majority as a judge of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea.

The holder of a doctorate in the Science of Law, and a current judge of the Tribunal, 56-year-old Gao garnered 141 votes in the secret balloting at the 21st meeting of the States Parties to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, thus exceeding the necessary two-thirds majority of the 149 states parties that voted.

Gao, executive director of the China Institute for Maritime Affairs under the State Oceanic Administration, was elected to the Tribunal first on January 30, 2008 to fill the vacancy left by Judge Xu Guangjian, also from China, who had resigned for health reasons.

As Xu had been elected for a term of nine years, which would have ended on September 30, 2011, Gao was elected to fill the remainder of his term. Gao's new term is nine years.

In an interview with reporters after the meeting, Gao attributed the success of his re-election to the long-term support and efforts by the Chinese government.

"I have a strong supporter behind me -- my motherland China, a responsible and emerging country. Without China's support, it is impossible for me to be elected, "Gao told reporters.

He said as the only Chinese judge and one of the five Asian judges in the Tribunal, he was fully aware of the great responsibility.

"I will fulfill my responsibility in a fair and impartial way and abiding by the UN Convention on the Law of Sea, and safeguard the interests on the sea of every country so as to do my due contribution as a Chinese judge," Gao said.

The 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea lays down a comprehensive regime of law and order for the world's oceans and seas, establishing rules governing all uses of oceans and their resources.  It enshrines the notion that all problems of ocean space are closely inter-related and should be addressed as a whole. The Convention currently consists of 162 states parties.

The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea was established in Hamburg, Germany, when the Convention entered into force on November 16, 1994. Consisting of 21 judges, each elected for a nine-year term, the Tribunal deals with disputes arising from the interpretation and application of the Convention.