Lee Jae-hyung, Director, International Law Bureau, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ministry of Foreign Affairs
The government has appointed the incumbent director of the International Law Bureau of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as a candidate for the 2023 International Court of the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) judge election. It is the first time that the government has nominated an incumbent diplomat who is not an international law scholar as a candidate for a judge at the International Court of the Law of the Sea.
An official from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced on the 30th that “In relation to the 2023 International Court of Oceans and Law judge election, Lee Jae-hyung, director of the International Law Bureau, has been selected as the Korean candidate.”
The official explained, “We have comprehensively considered the candidate’s experience and capabilities, strengthening the conflict response capacity of the international law working community, the opinions of relevant organizations, and cases of other countries including major maritime-related countries.”
After graduating from the Department of Jurisprudence at Seoul National University, Lee joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (currently the Ministry of Foreign Affairs) in 1996 and served as the head of the International Law Division, the UN Counselor to the United Nations, and the Ambassador to Afghanistan.
The International Court of the Law of the Sea, located in Hamburg, Germany, is in charge of the settlement of disputes related to the interpretation and application of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. It is composed of 21 judges for a 9-year term (renewal is possible), and the judges are elected by voting at the Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.
In Korea, the late Judge Park Chun-ho, who was a professor at Korea University Law School, served as a judge from 1996 to 2008, and then Baek Jin-hyeon, a professor at Seoul National University Graduate School of International Studies, has served as the judge since 2009.
The Korean Society of International Law is also known to have recommended multiple candidates, including academics, through a standing board of directors in accordance with related regulations, but the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has the final authority to nominate candidates.
The government plans to engage in activities to gather support for the candidate from member countries until the general assembly of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in June 2023, when the election is held.