Joan Donoghue

International Court of Justice University of California, Santa Cruz Juris Doctor
Her Excellency

Joan E. Donoghue
Judge of the International Court of Justice
Assumed office
September 13, 2010
Preceded byThomas Buergenthal
Personal details
Born (1957-12-12) 12 December 1957 (age 62)
Alma materUniversity of California, Santa Cruz (BA)
University of California, Berkeley (JD)

Joan E. Donoghue (born December 12, 1957) is an American jurist, and a Judge on the International Court of Justice. She was elected to that post in 2010 and re-elected in 2014.[1][2][3] She has two sons, Adam and Casey Shamma.

Donoghue graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz with honors degrees in Russian Studies and in Biology in 1978. She subsequently received her Juris Doctorate from the University of California, Berkeley School of Law in 1981.[3]

In the 1980s, Donoghue acted as attorney-advisor for the U.S. in Nicaragua v. United States.[4] She was the General Counsel of Freddie Mac from 2003 to 2005, and served as Deputy Legal Adviser at the United States State Department from 2007 to 2010.[3]

International Court of Justice

Donoghue was elected to the ICJ on September 9, 2010 to fill the place left vacant by the resignation of Thomas Buergenthal. Pursuant to the Statute of the International Court of Justice, Donoghue completed the remainder of the nine-year term for which Buergenthal had been elected, which expired on February 5, 2015.[2]

Donoghue's name had been the only nomination for this ICJ vacancy received by the Secretary-General within the specified time.[5] (After the expiration of the deadline for submissions of nominations, the Secretariat received communications from the national group of Colombia also nominating a candidate.[6]) In the General Assembly, Donoghue received 159 votes out of 167 valid ballots (there were 8 abstentions).[6] In the Security Council, she received all 15 votes.[1] Donoghue was sworn in as a member of the ICJ on September 13, 2010.[7]

Although the ICJ was established in 1945, Donoghue was only the fourth woman elected to be a member of the Court.[4] Of the Court's 15 members, three are now female (the others are Xue Hanqin, sworn in on the same day as Donoghue, and Julia Sebutinde, who joined the Court in 2012).[7][8]. Previously, Rosalyn Higgins served both as judge and as president of the Court (1995-2009).

In 2014, Donoghue was nominated for a second term on the ICJ, and was easily re-elected with 156 votes in the first round of voting at the International Court of Justice judges election, 2014.

"On 25 February 2019, the judges of the International Court of Justice by thirteen votes to one stated that the United Kingdom is under an obligation to bring to an end its administration of the Chagos Archipelago as rapidly as possible. Only the American judge, Joan Donoghue, voted in favor of the UK." Before granting independence to Mauritius, the UK separated the Chagos island group from Mauritius and gave one of the group, Diego Garcia, to the US, which has a major military base on it.[9][10]


  1. ^ a b United Nations Security Council S/PV.6381 2010-09-09. Retrieved 2011-07-25.
  2. ^ a b "General Assembly document GA/10978". 2010-09-09. Retrieved 2011-07-25.
  3. ^ a b c International Court of Justice biography. Accessed December 4, 2010.
  4. ^ "Elections to fill vacancies in principal organs: election of a member of the International Court of Justice". 2010-08-23. UN document ID:S/2010/443. Retrieved 2011-07-25.
  5. ^ a b A/64/PV.118 2010-09-09. Retrieved 2011-07-25.
  6. ^ a b "Swearing-in of two new Members of the Court at a public sitting on Monday 13 September 2010 at 10 a.m." (PDF) (Press release). International Court of Justice. 2010-09-10. Archived from the original (PDF) on 24 December 2010. Retrieved 2011-07-25.
  7. ^ Marcia Coyle (2010-09-13). "New Judge Will Mark Historic Moment for World Court". The National Law Journal.
  8. ^
  9. ^ Bowcott, Owen (25 February 2019). "UN court rejects UK's claim of sovereignty over Chagos Islands". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 February 2019.