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Harry Roque loses bid for ILC seat, grateful for nomination

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After failing to secure a seat at the International Law Commission (ILC), presidential spokesperson Harry Roque expressed his gratitude to President Rodrigo Duterte for nominating him to the United Nations advisory body.

Roque, during Saturday’s election of ILC members, earned 87 votes out of the 191 valid ballots of UN member-states. He ranked last among 11 candidates from the Asia-Pacific, which was given eight out of the 34 available seats in the commission.

“My candidature at the ILC was a challenging campaign throughout, but we met it head on. Unfortunately, we did not succeed,” Roque said in a statement shortly after the election.

He thanked President Duterte, the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Philippines’ Permanent Mission to the United Nation, and his family for supporting his ILC bid.

The Palace official also conveyed his appreciation to his staff for helping him fulfill his duties as presidential spokesperson even when he flew to New York during the UN international law week to campaign for one of the ILC seats.

Roque likewise extended his congratulations to the new members of the prestigious body, saying that he would continue to advocate for Covid-19 vaccine equality and climate action.

“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,” he said.

Representatives from India, Thailand, and Japan received the highest number of votes among Asia-Pacific nominees, with the support of 150 UN members each. They were followed by nominees from Vietnam, China, South Korea, Cyprus, and Mongolia, who would thus occupy the remaining seats reserved for the region.

They would serve a five-year term starting January 2023 and upon the exit of the present 34 members of the ILC at the end of 2022.

Apart from the Philippines, the representatives of Lebanon and Sri Lanka also failed to get into the ILC, a UN body which helps in crafting rules and legal norms to be adopted by member-states.

Roque’s nomination to the commission was met with fierce criticism. Days ahead of the election, about 152 Philippine lawyers wrote to UN member-states to express their objection to Roque’s candidacy to the advisory body.

Officials of the UP Integrated School and the University of the Philippines in Diliman also criticized Roque.

They slammed the Palace mouthpiece for supposedly defending and justifying President Duterte’s pronouncements, which, they claimed, enabled extrajudicial killings and attacks on the rule of law in the country.

Roque downplayed the criticism, saying his critics form a small portion of all of the 78,000 lawyers in the country.

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