The UK has lost its seat on the International Court of Justice for the first time since its creation in 1946.
Christopher Greenwood, the current British judge, was running for re-election to serve a second nine-year term – but withdrew from the race after facing a run-off vote against India’s Dalveer Bhandari.
Although Mr Greenwood had a majority among the UN Security Council, Mr Bhandari won the most backing in the General Assembly – with the Indian judge’s popularity seen to be increasing as support for the Briton diminished.
Based at The Hague, the UN court has 15 members and its job is to settle disputes between countries.
The UK’s permanent representative to the UN, Ambassador Matthew Rycroft, said: “The UK has concluded that it is wrong to take up the valuable time of the Security Council and the UN General Assembly with further rounds of elections.
“The UK congratulates the successful candidates, including Judge Bhandari of India.
“We are naturally disappointed, but it was a competitive field with six strong candidates.
“If the UK could not win in this run-off, then we are pleased that it is a close friend like India that has done so instead.
The setback is being regarded by some diplomats as the result of waning international influence following the vote to leave the European Union.
Five judges are elected to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) every three years.
Ronny Abraham of France, Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf of Somalia, Antonio Augusto Cancado Trindade of Brazil and Nawaf Salam of Lebanon have been elected to the bench along with Judge Bhandari.