UN General Assembly on Tuesday elected Bolivia, Ethiopia, Kazakhstan and Sweden to serve during 2017-2018 in the UN Security Council, while the contest between Netherlands and Italy has yet to be officially resolved.
The two countries vying for one of two seats representing the Western European and others Group (WEOG) agreed to split the two-year term and balloting was “suspended until further notice” shortly after 5 p.m. EDT (2200 GMT). Sweden resoundingly won the other WEOG seat on the first ballot.
The elected five are to join on Jan. 1, 2017 the five permanent members of the 15-nation council — Britain, China, France, Russiaand the United States and replace the five non-permanent members elected in 2014 to serve during 2015-2016 — Angola, Malaysia, New Zealand, Spain and Venezuela, who are ending their two-year terms on Dec. 31.
The 193-member General Assembly mandated in 2014 that elections beginning in 2016 for non-permanent Security Council seats be held six months in advance of the term in order to give the elected countries more time to prepare for their new responsibilities. Previously balloting was held in October.
Before the meeting was suspended, Norway, as chair of WEOG, announced a meeting for 10 a.m. EDT (1500 GMT) Wednesday to discuss the proposal which would have to be approved by the group and then voted on by the General Assembly where a more than two-thirds majority of those voting is required for election.
Italy and Netherlands were tied 95-95 after a total of five rounds of secret ballots to determine which country will join the other five non-permanent council members — Egypt, Japan, Senegal, Ukraine and Uruguay, whose two-year terms will end on Dec. 31, 2017.
Bert Koenders(L), foreign minister of Netherlands, speaks during the election of non-permanent members of UN Security Council at the UN headquarters in New York. June 28, 2016. (Xinhua/Li Muzi)
“The signal of this assembly this afternoon has been quite clear and I think it was reflected in the last vote this afternoon 95 votes for Italy and 95 votes for the Kingdom of the Netherlands,” said Foreign Minister Bert Koenders of Netherlands. “That means it is a clear signal that you appreciate both our countries in representing you in the Security Council.”
“Therefore, my colleague (Italian Foreign Minister Paolo) Gentiloni and myself would like to put forward a proposal following subject to full endorsement of WEOG that we would like to split the term,” said the Dutch foreign minister.
He proposed Italy to serve the first half, next year, and the Netherlands would serve in 2018 subject to WEOG endorsement and approval of the General Assembly.
Koenders’ proposal was greeted by applause.
“I confirm on behalf of the Republic of Italy what my colleague and friend Bert Koenders just said,” Gentiloni said, expressing thanks to the assembly for “your patience and your support.”
“We wanted maybe to give also a message of unity between European countries and so we took the opportunity of this perfect parity, 95-95 vote, to decide a proposal that gives also this message,” said Gentiloni, adding that the campaign “was an extraordinary opportunity to strengthen relations with all UN countries.”
“The competitive election has many negative things but it has an extraordinarily positive thing in that it gives an opportunity to know better all the membership of the UN,” the foreign minister said.
He later told reporters outside the great hall of the assembly. “We have no doubt this agreement will be implemented.”
Asked if the European unity message was an “anti-Brexit” message, referring to last week’s UK referendum decision to exit the European Union, he said “This is not anti-Brexit, it is pro unity.”
Netherlands’ Koenders told reporters the Italy-Netherlands accord came at “a very, very complex time in the UN Security Council. We both campaigned for a strong United Nations, we need a strong UN in a time of geopolitical complex conflicts, disarmament discussions, discussion on the development goals and more than ever unity is needed in the Security Council to solve the problems of the world.”
Earlier, Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom of Sweden said after her nation’s election, “We will now do what we promised to do; we will work on prevention, peacekeeping, peacebuilding; we will work on security issues and climate and new threats to security; we will work on women’s peace and security.”
“I will instruct my staff here to work on a transparent and inclusive way to talk with countries, not only about them,” she added. “We are now ready to serve and we will do it based on the values and principles of the UN Charter.” Media agencies