UN Elects Security Council Non-Permanent Members For Two Year Term
On Friday, The United Nations (U.N.) General Assembly elected Germany, Belgium, Indonesia, the Dominican Republic, and South Africa as new U.N.S.C. non-permanent members for a two year term starting from Jan.1, 2019.
Indonesia gained 144 votes, while their only competitor from the Asia Pacific region, the Maldives, earned 46. The other contestants won their seats unanimously after receiving more than 180 votes. To be elected, a candidate must secure more than two-thirds of the overall vote in the General Assembly. There were 190 ballots in Friday’s vote.
The newly-elected members will replace Kazakhstan, Bolivia, Sweden, the Netherlands, and Ethiopia, who are ending their service in the Security Council this year. The other current five non-permanent seats are held by Poland, Peru, Kuwait, Ivory Coast, and Equatorial Guinea.
The U.N Security Council is the only group in the international organization that can apply sanctions and authorize the use of military force to preserve and maintain world peace and stability. The body has five permanent members (the U.S, the U.K, France, Russia, and China) and ten non-permanent members which are elected for two-year terms.
The non-permanent membership seats are distributed according to this procedure; two for the Groups of Asia-Pacific countries and the Group of the African nation, one seat for the Latin American and Caribbean nations, and two seats for the Western European and other states.
U.N.S.C. also endorses the appointment of the U.N Secretary-General and the admission of any new U.N. members. Moreover, the U.N.S.C. and the U.N. General Assembly choose the judges on the International Court of Justice.
Reactions, comments, and priorities
Foreign ministers, presidents, and leaders from the newly-elected nations expressed their gratitude and appreciation following the election’s result.
Indonesia’s Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi highlighted the country’s four priorities as non-permanent members of the council; peacekeeping, conflict prevention, sustainable development and fight against terrorism.
“We will contribute in creating a global eco-system of peace and security by advancing peacekeeping and peacebuilding as well as women’s enhanced role wherein,” Marsudi said in a press conference.
The Palestine issue will be one of Indonesia’s top priorities in the Council, the Indonesian foreign ministry said.
Germany stated it is ready to take on several issues, namely Libya, Yemen, the Syrian conflict, and the Syrian migrant crisis.
Before heading to New York, Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas emphasized the need for a strong and empowered United Nations.
Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders stated that the country is ready to be an open and constructive partner during the two-year term and described joining the council as a ”pivotal moment.”
“It’s a period when multilateralism no longer seems obvious to all, with some even questioning it, even as the planet is confronted with multiple global challenges, including climate change, the (U.N.) Sustainable Development Goals, the fight against terrorism and illegal migration,” the minister said in a statement.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa stated his country is honored and humbled to be elected as U.N.S.C. non-permanent member, saying he will use this opportunity to put forward the interest of African nations and address the roots of conflicts.
“We are committed to addressing the root causes of conflict, including inequality and underdevelopment, and promoting inclusive political dialogue,” said Ramaphosa in a statement.
The Dominican Republic, who will serve its first term next year in the Council, thanked the region for allowing the country to achieve its aspiration to contribute to the U.N. super body for the first time.
“We hope to promote an agenda centered on the peace, security, and development of our countries,” the country’s Foreign Minister Miguel Vargas Maldonado said.
What are the next challenges?
The five permanent members have veto power over any decision. Some view the veto power as a positive element of control over world affairs, but some think it is irrelevant to the world’s current affairs.
An analysis presented by the Guardian suggested the numbers of countries with the veto power (who are also the winners of the second’s world war) should be expanded as there is no permanent member from the African or the Latin American groups, for example. Some believe permanent members also have a tendency to use the veto to obstruct the U.N. based on each member’s vested interest. Indonesia, along with the other four members, can push for the reform in the Council.
The Council has also lost some power as a unifying force when Donald Trump took office and withdrew from the Iran deal, the Paris climate accord and opposed other U.N. initiatives.