On Tuesday, Ethiopia grabbed the only available seat for an African nation on the United Nations (UN) Security Council, thereby replacing Angola whose term on the council is set to end soon. This keeps Africa and Europe as the only continents with the most countries among the non-permanent members of the Security Council.
Five seats were being contested as the terms for five countries: Spain, Malaysia, New Zealand, Angola and Venezuela – on the UN Security Council will expire on December 31, 2016. In a bid to replace the outgoing members, the 193 members of the United Nations General Assembly voted, by secret ballot, for five seats divided by geographical grouping – two from Africa and the Asia-Pacific region, two from the Western Europe and Others Group, and one from Latin America and the Caribbean.
According to reports, the only African nation that participated in the contest, Ethiopia, polled 185 votes, the highest number of votes. Bolivia had 183 votes although it was also chosen by its regional group with no competitors. During the second round of voting, Kazakhstan won the seat reserved for Asia Pacific against Thailand with a wide margin of 138 votes to 55, while Italy, the Netherlands and Sweden competed for two seats for Western Europe. Sweden had an outright win after it garnered 134 votes, leaving Italy and Netherlands to square up for the remaining seat. After five rounds of voting failed to produce a clear winner, Italy and the Netherlands have proposed to split a two-year term on the UN Security Council. All the newly elected countries will join the council for two years starting January 1, 2017.
Under the UN Charter, the Security Council has primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. It calls disputing parties and attempts to settle their differences through peaceful means, recommending methods of adjustment or terms of settlement. In some cases, the Security Council can resort to imposing sanctions or even authorise the use of force to maintain or restore international peace and security.
The Security Council also recommends to the General Assembly the appointment of the Secretary-General and the admission of new Members to the United Nations. And, with the General Assembly, it elects the judges of the International Court of Justice.
The current members of the UN Security Council are:
Non-permanent with their term expiry year
New Zealand (2016)