India will very soon send its first woman candidate as a member of the International Tribunal of Law for the Sea (ITLOS), the top body which deals with the issues relating to international law for sea.

Neeru Chadha, the first woman Chief Legal Advisor to the Ministry of External Affairs,  is India’s candidate for the elections on June 14. If she gets elected, then she would become the first Indian woman in top UN position after Vijaya Laxmi Pandit.

Neeru has been a former legal advisor to the UN mission and a known expert in maritime law, international arbitration and the UN Convention on the Law of Sea (UNCLOS).

The election for ITLOS clashes with the election of the Commission on Limits of Continental Shelf (CLCS) which is another important UN body. Both the elections will be conducted by the same group. CLCS takes experts in the field of hydrography and ocean sciences, whereas ITLOS focuses on legal aspects. India chose to contest elections for ITLOS over CLCS.

The United Nations has laid two provisions for the CLCS elections this year which can be directly attributed to India’s poor behaviour. First, the UN had made clear that the expenses for CLCS elections will be borne by the state concerned. Second, the states have to give assurance that members should serve the commission for at least three months.

The Indian government in the past has come under criticism for taking too long to clear the expenses of the officials who had previously served in CLCS, the officials then requested the UN to pay for their travel and stay.

The poorer member countries have criticised UN that India, which is one of the top developing economies should not get assistance from UN instead the money should be channeled to the nations in need. The criticism was a blow for India’s image globally.

ITLOS rules on all laws relating to oceans. The ruling is binding on all the 167 member countries which are signatories to it.

Pic Credit: Lawgupshup.com

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