South Africa’s first permanent judge at the ICJ ‘excited’ as he takes up his new position

Judge Dire Tladi

Judge Dire Tladi

Published Feb 11, 2024


South Africa’s top jurist, Professor Dire Tladi has begun his nine-year permanent stint as one of the International Criminal Court (ICJ) judges.

Tladi became the country’s first permanent judge to the ICJ after he was sworn in on Tuesday.

This was after the ICJ ordered Israel to take the necessary steps to prevent acts of genocide against the people of Palestine who have been at the receiving end of Israeli’s human rights violations.

Tladi, an expert in international law, has been described as one of the country’s youngest and most accomplished jurist and academic.

South Africans in their numbers celebrated when Tladi took the declaration along with three other new members of the court which included Romania’s Bogdan-Lucian Aurescu, the United States’ Sarah Hull Cleveland and Mexico’s Juan Manuel Gómez Robledo Verduzco.

The new set of judges who are beginning their stints at the Hague were elected by the General Assembly and the Security Council of the United Nations on November 9 2023.

Tuesday’s ceremony was attended by South Africa’s diplomat in the Netherlands, Vusi Madonsela.

“I solemnly declare that I will perform my duties and exercise my powers as a judge honourably, faithfully, impartially and conscientiously,” said Tladi, marking the commencement of his duty as a permanent judge,“ Tladi said during his swearing in.

Speaking during an interview on Newzroom Afrika, Tladi said he is excited about his new chapter at the ICJ.

“I am excited about the new chapter and I look forward to making a difference. It was hard to believe but at the same time, it is something I have been looking forward to. Even though I knew what was happening on the day of my swearing in, it was still something that was hard to believe...The cases on the dockets of the court lend themselves to the kind of difference I would like to make...So I am really excited,” he said.

The well-travelled and respected judge earned his BLC and LLB degree cum laude from the University of Pretoria, an LL.M. from the University of Connecticut (USA) and a LLD (International law) from the Erasmus University (Netherlands).

He is currently co-editor in chief of the South African Yearbook of International Law and has served on the editorial board for the Pretoria University Law Press (PULP) journal Constitutional Court Review.

He has also served on the editorial board of the Journal of Practice of International Courts and Tribunals and has over the years published more than 50 scholarly publications.

In addition to all these accolades, Tladi is also a published author of a novel titled “Blood in the Sand of Justice”, which is a fictional account of the assassination of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.