At 10 Central European Time this morning, Joan E. Donoghue of the United States and Dr. Xue Hanqin of China were sworn in as the newest Judges on the 15-member International Court of Justice (right) at The Hague, Netherlands.
Judges old and new then began a planned week of public hearings in the Case Concerning Application of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (Georgia v. Russian Federation). Pending since 2008, the dispute arose out of events that year in 2 provinces of the Republic of Georgia, South Ossetia and Abkhazia. (Prior IntLawGrrls posts available here.)
Today is the 1st in history that the 65-year-old ICJ bench was not composed of 14 or more men.
As posted, the only other women ever to have served was Rosalyn Higgins (left) of Great Britain, an ICJ Judge from 1995 to 2009 and ICJ President the last 3 years of that tenure.
Xue had been elected on June 29 by the U.N. Security Council and U.N. General Assembly; those bodies elected Donoghue just this past week, on September 9.
Each woman is filling out the term of a retiring judge, and each is eligible thereafter to run for election to a full term.
Both the newest members have devoted their careers to diplomacy.
Xue (left), who will celebrate her 55th birthday this Wednesday, was born in Shanghai. At Beijing University she earned her 1st law degree, a diploma in international law, a field in which she's published widely. Xue then earned an LL.M. and a J.S.D. at Columbia University School of Law in New York. As detailed at her ICJ webpage, she has held a myriad of positions in China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and has represented China before many international organizations; most recently, as China's Ambassador to ASEAN, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. She's served as the President of the Asian Society of International Law since 2009.
As we've posted, Donoghue (left) holds a double B.A. with honors in Russian Studies and Biology from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a J.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law. She's been a Visiting Professor there, and also has held positions at the Council on Foreign Relations, Georgetown University Law Center, and the George Washington University School of Law. Save for 2 stints in the Treasury Department and at Freddie Mac, she's practiced at the U.S. State Department since 1984. She'd been serving as Principal Deputy Legal Adviser at the time of her nomination to the ICJ. Donoghue is a member of the American Society of International Law, which, as shown in the video below, held a June 2010 event that featured comments by Donoghue, by current State Department Legal Adviser Harold Hongju Koh, and by Koh's immediate predecessor, John B. Bellinger III.