Judge Joan Donoghue, Sibley Lecturer at Georgia Law, elected President of International Court of Justice

The Honorable Joan E. Donoghue, the American judge on the International Court of Justice, today was elected President of the International Court of Justice, the Hague-based institution known colloquially as the World Court.

She is the 3d American to serve a term as President, following Green H. Hackworth (1955-58) and Stephen M. Schwebel (1997-2000), and also the 2d woman, following Dame Rosalyn Higgins of the United Kingdom (2006-09).

We at the University of Georgia School of Law Dean Rusk International Law Center are pleased to welcome this news, not least because of Judge Donoghue’s generosity over the years toward our law school community:

  • In April 2012, a little more than a year before her initial election to the ICJ, Donoghue visited Georgia Law’s Athens campus to deliver our 108th Sibley Lecture. Her talk, entitled “The Role of the World Court Today,” (video) outlined the court’s history as the judicial organ of the United Nations, as well as the nature and evolution of its jurisdiction over disputes between nation-states and certain advisory matters. The text was published at 47 Georgia Law Review 181 (2012).
  • On occasions thereafter, as part of our Global Governance Summer School, the judge and her staff kindly hosted our students as they received a tour of the court’s seat, the Peace Palace, as well as a briefing on the court’s work.

As explained at the ICJ website:

“The President presides at all meetings of the Court; he/she directs its work and supervises its administration, with the assistance of a Budgetary and Administrative Committee and various other committees, all composed of Members of the Court. During judicial deliberations, the President has a casting vote in the event of votes being equally tied.”

Before joining the ICJ, Donoghue was Principal Deputy Legal Adviser in the U.S. Department of State, a position in which her duties included advising the Secretary of State and other officials on all aspects of international law. She’d practiced at State since 1984, with a few breaks to serve as Deputy General Counsel for the U.S. Department of the Treasury and General Counsel for Freddie Mac. She holds bachelor’s and law degrees from the Santa Cruz and Berkeley campuses, respectively, of the University of California.

Having been elected President by a vote of her peers on the court, Judge Donoghue will serve a 3-year term – as will her colleague who was elected Vice-President, Judge Kirill Gevorgian of the Russian Federation.

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