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Seven nations vying for five UN Security Council seats amid elections

The UN General Assembly began voting Wednesday to elect five new members of the Security Council for 2021 and 2022, with battles underway for the Western and African seats. From Asia-Pacific, India is the only candidate, with Pakistan voting in support of its candidature last year.

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The UN General Assembly began voting Wednesday to elect five new members of the Security Council for 2021 and 2022, with battles underway for the Western and African seats.

Kenya and Djibouti were facing off for one seat, while in the Western bloc, three nations — Canada, Ireland and Norway — are vying for two seats.

UN Security Council election: a competitive affair 

In the Asia-Pacific region, India — which has been trying unsuccessfully to win a permanent seat in an expanded Security Council — is assured of a seat as it is running unopposed, as is Mexico in the Latin America and Caribbean region.

African nations have in the past picked their own candidate but were unable to put forward a single country this time, setting the stage for Wednesday’s showdown.

Kenya boasts of enjoying the support of the African Union, but Djibouti says it should have the seat due to Nairobi’s past participation on the Security Council and the principle of rotation.

French-speaking Djibouti and English-speaking Kenya are both highlighting their roles in seeking peace on the Horn of Africa, as well as their contributions to UN peacekeeping options.

India running from Asia-Pacific region

India has been unanimously endorsed as a non-permanent member of the United Security Council after all fifty-five of the Asia-Pacific groups, including Pakistan, voted in India’s favor in the absence of another candidate.

Read more: Asia-Pacific Group Endorses India’s Candidature for UNSC Non-Permanent Member

India’s candidature has been strongly endorsed for the seat of a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council with a two-year tenure, and the announcement came in a tweet by India’s Permanent Representative at the United Nations, Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin.

Ambassador Akbaruddin tweeted, “A unanimous step. Asia-Pacific Group at the United Nations unanimously endorses India’s candidature for a non-permanent seat on the Security Council for 2 year term in 2021/22. Thanks to all 55 members for their support”.

Candidates display their peace-keeping roles

Kenya has pointed to its welcome to refugees from Somalia and South Sudan, as well as to its support to the two countries’ fragile governments.

Djibouti, in turn, notes its strategic location and unusual role as a defense base for diverse countries — France, the United States, China and Japan — as well as its contributions in Somalia.

For Europe, the competition is more customary.

Canada is still stung by a defeat in 2010 during its last bid for the Security Council, when the General Assembly chose Portugal instead.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has invested heavily in the latest Security Council effort, with a defeat potentially causing him political embarrassment at home.

“At a time when there are large countries that are withdrawing a little bit from the global stage, I believe deeply that Canada can and should be stepping up on the world stage,” Trudeau said Wednesday.

Canada sees the Security Council seat as an opportunity “to build sustainable peace, and to make real progress on the issues that matter,” he said, citing “clean air, a real shot at success, a fairer economy, and just society.”

Celine Dion vs Bono

Hoping to woo delegates, both Canada and Ireland have wielded star power. Celine Dion sang in New York City to promote Canada at the UN, while U2 performed a concert in the Big Apple for Ireland.

“Campaigning for a UNSC seat involves endless lobbying, entertaining and worrying that the ambassador who just promised you a vote is a liar,” tweeted Richard Gowan, an expert on the world body at the International Crisis Group.

Fearing fraud or manipulation, the General Assembly will not vote electronically, even though the United Nations is mostly operating virtually until the end of July due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Instead, each of the 193 delegations will have a chance to cast a secret ballot at a designated time scattered throughout the day in the famous Assembly Hall.

Each new Security Council member needs to win two-thirds of the votes cast — meaning 128 votes if all 193 nations vote. Delegates could have to vote multiple times to certify a winner.

Read more: Coronavirus: UN hails ceasefires and resolutions by insurgents

The Security Council has 10 non-permanent members in addition to the veto-wielding Big Five — Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States.

The General Assembly will also elect its president for the 2020-21 session on Wednesday. Only one candidate is running, Turkish diplomat Volkan Bozkir.

But Armenia, Cyprus and Greece — all of which have historically tense relations with Turkey — have opposed him, meaning he cannot be elected by consensus and nations will have to cast votes.

AFP with additional input by GVS News Desk

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