Guide to Upcoming Elections for the U.N. Security Council

New York, Oct 4 – Elections will be held this month for five rotating seats on the United Nations Security Council. Membership of the Council is obviously important for Israel. The Council currently has on its agenda the pending Palestinian application for full membership of the U.N. -- although it is not clear if and when this matter might come to a vote.

The UNSC has 15 members: five permanent members with veto power – the United States, Russia, China, the United Kingdom and France -- and 10 countries serving two-year terms. Five members circulate on and off the Council each year. The new member will serve on the Council from January 1, 2012 until December 31, 2013.

Resolutions in the Security Council require nine affirmative votes and no vetoes to pass.

Retiring from the Council at the end of this year will be Bosnia, Brazil, Gabon, Lebanon and Nigeria.

Elections for vacant seats take place according to a complicated geographic and political formula. All 193 member states of the U.N. can vote and a country needs to secure the support of two-thirds of the members present and voting at the General Assembly session to be elected.

According to the Security Council’s own website, this is the lineup for this month’s elections: (note, this can change right up to the last moment).

  • Guatemala is currently unopposed for one seat.
  • Pakistan and Kyrgyzstan are vying for a second seat.
  • Slovenia, Hungary and Azerbaijan are contesting a third seat.
  • Mauritania, Morocco and Togo are contesting the fourth and fifth seats.

The implications for Israel and for a possible vote on Palestinian membership are unclear. In the current Council, Lebanon and Brazil were reliable votes for the Palestinians and against Israel. Each of the other three was classified as undecided.

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