Julia Sebutinde is a Ugandan judge serving her second term on International Court of Justice following her re-election on November 12, 2020. She is also Chancellor of Muteesa I Royal University;a University owned by Buganda Kingdom.She has been a Judge on ICJ since March 2012.She is first African woman as Judge of ICJ. Before being elected to ICJ,she was a Judge of Special Court for Sierra Leone in 2007.
She was born in Central Region of Uganda to a civil employee and a housewife with Semambo surname.She attended Lake Victoria Primary School in Entebbe;Uganda in 1960s. She then joined Gayaza High School and later King’s College Budo,before entering Makerere University;Uganda and obtained LL.B. degree in 1977.She has DLP(Diploma in Legal Practice)from Law Development Center in Kampala;Uganda in 1978.In 1991,she received LL.M. degree from University of Edinburgh;UK. In 2009,in recognition of her work and contribution to international justice,she was awarded an Hon.LL.D. degree by University of Edinburgh UK
Julia Sebutinde first worked in Ministry of Justice in Government of Uganda from 1978 until 1990. After graduating from University of Edinburgh;UK in 1991,she worked in Ministry of the Commonwealth in UK.She later joined Ministry of Justice in Namibia,which had just attained Independence at that time.In 1996,she was appointed Judge of High Court of Uganda.In that capacity,she presided over three commissions of inquiry related to following government departments:
- Corruption in Uganda Police
- Corruption in Uganda People’s Defence Force
- Corruption in Uganda Revenue Authority
In 2005 Justice Julia Sebutinde was appointed, with secondment from Uganda government, to Special Court on Sierra Leone, established by UN. She was later appointed Presiding Judge in Courtroom II, at that time responsible for hearing case against former Liberian strongman Charles Taylor. In that position she refused to attend a disciplinary hearing against Taylor’s lawyer, a behaviour which amounts to serious judicial misconduct, but that remained unsanctioned by Special Court for Sierra Leone.
In ICJ judges election, 2011 Sebutinde was one of eight candidates for five vacant judicial seats on ICJ, having been nominated by national groups of Croatia,Denmark,and Uganda in Permanent Court of Arbitration. In the election, a successful candidate needs an absolute majority of votes both in UN General Assembly and in UN Security Council. On the first day of voting,four candidates were elected but the fifth position was not filled. When voting adjourned, Abdul Koroma incumbent from Sierra Leone,had received 9 votes out of 15 in Security Council,with 8 votes needed to elect.Over in General Assembly,after five rounds of voting,Julia Sebutinde,the contender,had received 97 votes out of 193,with 97 votes needed to elect. When balloting resumed on 13 December 2011,Sebutinde received an absolute majority of votes in both Security Council and General Assembly,and thus was declared elected.
Julia Sebutinde is married to John Bagunywa Sebutinde and together they are parents of two daughters. She loves music, soccer and swimming. She enjoys Indian cuisine and spicy food. She is Chancellor of International Health Sciences University in Kampala Uganda, a position she has held since 2008.