Kenneth Keith

Kenneth Keith

Sir Kenneth James Keith, ONZ, KBE, QC (born 19 November 1937) is a New Zealand Judge appointed to the International Court of Justice in November 2005.

Keith was educated at the Auckland Grammar School and studied Law at the University of Auckland, Victoria University of Wellington, and Harvard Law School. He was a faculty member of Victoria University from 1962 to 1964 and from 1966 to 1991. He served in the New Zealand Department of External Affairs during the early 1960s, and as a member of the United Nations Secretariat from 1968 to 1970. After this, he was Director of the New Zealand Institute of International Affairs and later became President of the New Zealand Law Commission. He was also a member of the Royal Commission on the Electoral System which was key in changing New Zealand's electoral system. In 1993 he was a member of the Working Party on the Reorganisation of the Income Tax Act 1976 which was instrumental in launching a fundamental reform the way New Zealand tax legislation was written.

From 1996 to 2003, Keith was a Judge of the Court of Appeal of New Zealand, and was a member of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in London. He was subsequently one of the inaugural appointments to the new Supreme Court of New Zealand which replaced the Privy Council. Prior to his appointment to the International Court of Justice, he sat (as required) as a Judge of Appeal in Samoa (since 1982), the Cook Islands (since 1982) and Niue (since 1995), and is Judge of the Supreme Court of Fiji. He has also sat as the Chair of a North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) Tribunal (UPS v Canada).

He was admitted to the New Zealand Bar in 1961, and appointed a Queen's Counsel in 1994. In 1988 he was created a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire "for services to law reform and legal education". In June 2007 he was admitted as a Member of the Order of New Zealand.

Sir Kenneth is the first New Zealander ever to be elected to a permanent seat on the International Court of Justice. He is no stranger to the court, however, as he was previously a member of the New Zealand legal team in the Nuclear Tests cases before the International Court of Justice in 1973, 1974 and 1995.

Preceded by
Pieter Kooijmans
Judge of International Court of Justice
2006-
Succeeded by
incumbent

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