Five New Non-Permanent Members Elected to UN Security Council

By Hannah Russo | October 13, 2010

The United Nations General Assembly elected five new non-permanent members to the United Nations Security Council yesterday.  On January 1, 2011, Colombia, India, South Africa, Germany, and Portugal will join the five permanent members (The US, the UK, France, Russia, and China), and five other non-permanent members (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Gabon, Lebanon and Nigeria, whose term will expire in December of 2011) on the Security Council.  The ten non-permanent members of the Security Council must be elected by a two-thirds majority of the General Assembly in order to gain the two-year seats, which are allocated according to geographic regions.

Colombia, India, and South Africa ran unopposed in their respective regions for their seat, while Germany, Portugal, and Canada contested the two available “Western Europe and Other States” seats.  Germany won the first of the two seats, and Portugal won the second after Canada withdrew its name from the voting.  Tuesday’s election was relatively smooth and speedy, with only three rounds of balloting.  Past elections, like those of 2006 and 1979, required weeks of balloting to decide the contested seats.

The UN Security Council is charged with maintaining international peace and security through the authorization of military actions, recommendation of state sanctions, and dispatch of peacekeeping operations. In past years, the de-facto primacy of the five permanent members (whose individual veto power can end any Security Council resolution) has been challenged by calls for reform of the Security Council’s composition and procedures, particularly by developing nations. Three weeks ago, African leaders from Nigeria, Gabon, and Senegal asked for a permanent seat on the Security Council for an African country, which would help the UN “better reflect the current global realities.”  Other nations, including Portugal, Slovenia, and even the UK, echoed the African leaders’ calls for Security Council reform during the General Assembly’s high-level debates last month.