MS Risk Blog

UN Votes in New Members of Security Council

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On 2 June, the 193 – member United Nations General Assembly elected Equatorial Guinea, Ivory Coast, Kuwait, Peru and Poland to the UN Security Council for a two-year term due to begin on 1 January 2018.

The Netherlands meanwhile was elected for a one-year term after it reached a deal with Italy last year to split a two-year term. Voting between the two countries was deadlocked last year. Italy and the Netherlands however later reached a deal, agreeing that Italy would serve on the Council for 2017 and then step down to allow the Netherlands to be elected for 2018.

While all the countries were running unopposed, they still required more than two-thirds of the overall vote in order to win a seat. Ivory Coast received 289 votes, Equatorial Guinea got 185, Kuwait received 188, Peru won 186, Poland received 190 while the Netherlands received 184 votes. The Council is made up of ten elected members, five voted on each year and five permanent veto-powers: The United Stats, Britain, France, China and Russia. The Council is the only UN body that can make legally binding decisions and has the power to impose sanctions and authorize the use of force. In order to ensure geographical representation to the Council, there are five seats apportioned for African and Asian states; one for Eastern European states; two for Latin American and Caribbean states and two for Western European and other states. Regional groups generally agree upon the candidates to put forward and competitive races for seats are increasingly are. Human rights activists however have stated that this was a “serious problem.” According to Human Rights Watch (HRW) UN Director Louis Charbonneau, “member states should be able to choose whether or not they trust a country like Equatorial Guinea with the maintenance of international peace and security,” adding “Equatorial Guinea is a country that has harassed human rights defenders and civil groups, often with arbitrary detentions.” He went on to say that “as the Security Council increasingly mainstreams the promotion of human rights, we hope Equatorial Guinea wont push back o undermine that.” The government of Equatorial Guinea has denied accusations of corruption and human rights abuses.