Image copyright AFP/ Getty Image caption UN Security Council members cast their election during a meeting on the election of five members of the International Court of Justice.

The International Court of Justice is the principal legal torso of the United Commonwealth. It is based in The Hague and its occupation is to settle disputes between states.

Lots of its work is highly technical and not exactly the stuff of the front pages. And let’s be honest, many people would probably not have known that one of the 15 magistrates has all along been British ever since the court was put in after the Second World War.

But the loss of a British existence around that supreme judicial terrace is of huge significance – not only to the court but to the UK’s standing in the world.

This is how it happened. Five of the 15 judges are elected every three years to ensure continuity. Britain’s judge, Sir Christopher Greenwood, was hoping to win re-election for a second nine year term. He is a highly distinguished lawyer and former professor in international law at the LSE.

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