Sir Christopher John Greenwood GBE CMG QC (born 12 May 1955) is a former British judge at the International Court of Justice, on which he served from 2009 to 2018. Prior to his election, he was professor of international law at the London School of Economics and a barrister who regularly appeared as counsel before the International Court of Justice, the European Court of Human Rights, the English courts, and other tribunals. Greenwood has been appointed as the new master of Magdalene College, Cambridge, succeeding Rowan Williams, and will be taking up his post from 1 October 2020.
Sir Christopher Greenwood
Christopher Greenwood, 2009
|Judge of the International Court of Justice|
|Preceded by||Rosalyn Higgins, Baroness Higgins|
|Succeeded by||Nawaf Salam|
|Born||12 May 1955|
|Alma mater||Magdalene College, Cambridge|
Greenwood is the son of Captain Murray Greenwood and Diana Greenwood. He is married with two daughters. Christopher was educated at Wellingborough School. He then read law at Magdalene College, University of Cambridge, where he was awarded a BA (Law) (First Class Hons) in 1976, LLB (International Law) (First Class Hons) in 1977, and MA in 1981. As an undergraduate, he was elected president of the Cambridge Union in 1976.
He was called to the bar at the Middle Temple in 1978 and was appointed Queen's Counsel in 1999. In 2002 he was appointed Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George (CMG) in the Queen's Birthday Honours for services to international law. He was knighted in the 2009 New Year Honours. In 2018 Queen's Birthday Honours, he was appointed Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire (GBE) for services to international justice.
Greenwood is a member of the Panel of Arbitrators for the Law of the Sea Treaty, the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes and the United Kingdom National Group Permanent Court of Arbitration.
Greenwood is well known for the October 2002 legal opinion tendered to the British government, entitled The Legality of Using Force Against Iraq. The legal opinion, which he signed in his capacity as a law professor, has been used to justify that the invasion by Britain, the United States and allied powers was sanctioned by the UN Security Council. However, the opinion was concluded in the month before the adoption of UN Resolution 1441 and the conclusion was stated to be dependent on one of three conditions being satisfied. These conditions (he said) were (1) "if the UN Security Council adopts a fresh resolution authorizing military action against Iraq and any conditions set out in that resolution are met" - this did not happen; or (2) "under existing Security Council resolutions on the basis that the Security Council considered that (a) Iraq is in material breach of those resolutions" and (b) "that breach constitutes a threat to international peace and security in the Gulf area. This would not require a fresh Security Council authorization of military action".
The question of whether these conditions were satisfied is controversial and unclear, since there was no further resolution which might have rendered the point clear. Alternatively, (3) "under the right of self-defence if an armed attack by Iraq against the United Kingdom or one of its allies was reasonably believed to be imminent. This would not require any action by the Security Council."
Greenwood acted as counsel for the government of the United Kingdom in relation to a number of cases in both domestic and international courts: the Ojdanic case in the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia; Federal Republic of Yugoslavia v. United Kingdom in the International Court of Justice; the General Assembly request to the ICJ for an advisory opinion on the Palestinian wall (UK observations on admissibility); R (on the application of the European Roma Rights Centre and others) v. Immigration Officer at Prague Airport and others; and R (on the application of Abbasi and Mubanga) v. the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and others.
Notable appearances include:
The Globe and Mail reported on 31 August 2007 that Greenwood had been hired by the Canadian Department of National Defence for an opinion on the Canadian Afghan detainee issue, the responsibility Canada had for captives apprehended in Afghanistan. The legal issue is whether Canada can use the United Nations mandate to override its international treaty obligations.
Greenwood was elected as a judge of the International Court of Justice in November 2008 and served from 2009 to 2018. Greenwood's direct predecessor as a judge from the United Kingdom was Rosalyn Higgins and, although there is no rule allocating seats, the one held by them was kept by judges from the UK since the founding of the ICJ in 1946.
In November 2017, the seats of Greenwood and four other judges were up for election. Nawaf Salam from Lebanon surprisingly contested and won the seat kept previously by Indian judge Dalveer Bhandari. India in turn had Bhandari contest the seat previously held by Greenwood and after multiple rounds of voting the United Kingdom decided to withdraw Greenwood's application. This is the second time a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council has no judge on the ICJ and first time a permanent member lost the majority vote in the UN general assembly.
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