MANILA, Philippines — Presidential spokesperson failed to clinch a seat at the International Law Commission, garnering the least number of votes among 11 candidates from Asia-Pacific states for the eight seats available on the panel for representatives coming from the region.
Roque, a former human rights lawyer whose candidacy for a seat at the United Nations expert panel that develops and codifies international law was met with fierce opposition from various sectors, managed to get only 87 votes from the 191 states that voted.
The following candidates for the ILC were elected:
- Bimal Patel from India (163 votes)
- Vilawan Mangklatanakul from Thailand (162 votes)
- Masahiko Asada from Japan (154 votes)
- Hong Thao Nguyen from Vietnam (145 votes)
- Huang Huikang from China (142 votes)
- Lee Keun-Gwan from South Korea (140 votes)
- Andrea Mavroyiannis from Cyprus (139 votes)
- Mukh-Orgil Tsend from Mongolia (123 votes)
In a statement shortly after the elections, Roque said his candidacy for the international law body was a “challenging campaign” which he met “head on.”
“Unfortunately, we did not succeed,” he said. “I wish the new members of the ILC success, especially as they tackle challenging issues such as rising sea levels and vaccine equality — issues which I will continue to advocate for as well.”
Bagong Alyansang Makabayan – USA, which staged a protest last month at an upscale New York City restaurant where Roque was dining with representatives of several foreign missions, welcomed the Roque’s loss.
“We celebrate the UN vote today as a victory of the people’s movement to prevent the fascist Duterte government from expanding its tyrannical influence in the international arena,” Nina Macapinlac of Bayan – USA said in a statement.
Less than a week before the elections to the ILC, 152 lawyers wrote to nearly 200 Permanent Missions and Member States at the United Nations General Assembly to register their “vehement objection” to Roque’s candidacy for the international law panel.
They noted that Roque has defended and justified his principal, President Rodrigo Duterte, who is now under investigation by the International Criminal Court for allegations of crimes against humanity over his administration’s brutal campaign against illegal drugs.
The ILC was instrumental in the creation of the ICC, which Roque has repeatedly tried to discredit amid its prosecutor’s ongoing investigation into the “war on drugs.”
Prior to this, the International Association of Democratic Lawyers — a group of lawyers who have raised human rights issues as issues of international law — also wrote to member-states of the United Nations to say that Roque’s nomination to the ILC is “inappropriate and unacceptable.”
The Free Legal Assistance Group had also written to the ILC to object to Roque’s nomination to the panel.
Outside the legal profession, bloggers, content creators, artists, influencers and Filipino social media users also wrote to the ILC and other representatives to the United Nations to signify their opposition to Roque’s bid for a seat in the panel. — Xave Gregorio with reports from Kristine Joy Patag