The World of International Organizations

Kenya wins race for fifth new UNSC seat

A high-level U.N. Security Council meeting in 2018 (AN/Shealah Craighead)

(Arête News) — Kenya won election to the 15-nation United Nations Security Council on Thursday, joining with India, Ireland, Mexico and Norway in gaining a non-permanent seat on the most powerful arm of the world body.

With the African Union’s backing, Kenya garnered 129 votes in a second round of balloting by the 193-member U.N. General Assembly in New York, or one more than the 128 votes needed for the required two-thirds majority approval.

That also was more than double the 62 votes that Kenya’s opponent, Djibouti, received from assembly delegates.

A day earlier, neither one acheived a two-thirds majority, leaving the race for an African seat on the council still in limbo. Ireland and Norway handily won seats in the annual election on Wednesday.

The two European nations edged out Canada for the two Western seats. Norway attracted 130 votes, compared to Ireland’s 128 votes and Canada’s 108 votes.

Mexico and India ran unopposed for the two council seats that were up for election to represent Latin America and the Caribbean and the Asia-Pacific region, respectively. Each country gained a seat with a showing of more than 180 votes.

The five newest non-permanent members of the Security Council will begin their two-year terms on Jan. 1.

Assembly President Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, a Nigerian diplomat, circulated a letter on Monday listing the candidates for both the Security Council and the U.N. Economic and Social Council, or ECOSOC.

There were 18 seats to be decided for ECOSOC, the United Nations’ top economic and social body, which has 54 seats.

But all of those candidates — Argentina, Austria, Bolivia, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Guatemala, Indonesia, Japan, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Mexico, Nigeria, Portugal, Solomon Islands, the United Kingdom and Zimbabwe — ran unopposed. They were decided based on geographical representation.

‘Myriad of challenges’

India’s non-permanent council seat for the next two years also will provide it with a high-profile forum to confront China at a time of high tensions between them. Troops from the world’s two most populous nations, each nuclear armed, have been in a standoff over the disputed Ladakh region of the Himalaya.

At least 20 Indian soldiers were killed in a confrontation with Chinese soldiers that involved hand-to-hand fighting without the use of weapons on Monday, the first such confrontration between the two nations in 45 years, according to government officials.

Assembly voters also confirmed Turkish diplomat Volkan Bozkir as Muhammad-Bande’s successor to preside over the General Assembly in September. Bozkir, a former Turkish Cabinet minister for European Union affairs, ran unopposed.

The elections were being held simultaneously under a special procedure that allowed for secret balloting without a plenary meeting because of the coronavirus pandemic. Delegates were asked to cast votes in staggered time slots for social distancing.

“Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have all had to work under extraordinary conditions to overcome the myriad of challenges facing us,” Muhammad-Bande said in a statement.

“Indeed, the forthcoming elections represent our common commitment to ensuring the uninterrupted continuation of the important work of the United Nations, in accordance with the values and principles of the United Nations Charter,” he said.

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