New UN Security Council will have powerful members
New UN Security Council will have powerful members
India, South Africa, Germany, Colombia and Portugal — the incoming group of countries that will sit as nonpermanent members on the UN Security Council — represent a legion of emerging powers that have been campaigning for reform in the UN body. All five are also vying for permanent seats on the council, and some see their victory in Tuesday's election as a chance to leave an impression on the UN's most powerful body
The victors in Tuesday's election will give next year's Security Council a unique membership of global powers and important emerging countries that have been campaigning for reform of the U.N.'s most powerful body.
India, South Africa and Germany — powerhouses in Asia, Africa and Europe — won two-year terms that will put them on the council at the same time as Brazil and Nigeria, key players in Latin America and Africa.
For the first time, the Security Council will include these five countries that are seeking permanent seats and have been fighting to reform the U.N. body responsible for international peace and security so that it reflects the world in the 21st century, not the world after World War II when the U.N. was founded. Japan, which leaves the council at the end of the year, is also campaigning for a permanent seat.
In Tuesday's secret ballot election, the 192-nation General Assembly also elected Colombia and Portugal.
The big loser was Canada, another major economic power that was in a three-way race for two Western bloc seats. It dropped out after Germany won in the first round by a single vote and Portugal was ahead by 35 votes in the second round.
Ten of the Security Council's 15 seats are filled by regional groups for two-year stretches, with five elected each year. The other five seats are occupied by the council's veto-wielding permanent members: Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States.
"It is important to note that some of the countries that are coming on are some of the most important emerging powers," Britain's U.N. Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant said after the election. "We think that all of them will bring their own unique advantages and make this a very strong Security Council for the next two years."
The council, also for the first time, will include major regional powers — China and India in Asia, South Africa and Nigeria in Africa, and Brazil and Mexico in Latin America.
The outgoing nonpermanent members of the council are Austria, Japan, Mexico, Turkey and Uganda, whose terms end on Dec. 31. The five members elected last year — Bosnia, Brazil, Gabon, Lebanon and Nigeria — will remain on the council until the end of 2011.
Canadian Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon said he didn't think the vote was a repudiation of the country's foreign policy, though others in Canada disagreed and blamed Prime Minister Stephen Harper's actions.
Cannon said a statement by opposition Liberal Party leader Michael Ignatieff "indicating that Canada did not deserve a seat ... was used as an issue" by Germany and Portugal "to prevent Canada from acceding to the Security Council."
"We can speculate until tomorrow, but I can't give you any definite response as to what the real issue was, but I can say that Michael Ignatieff's statements hurt us," he told a news conference after the vote.
Portugal's deputy foreign minister, Joao Cravinho, said his country was "fairly confident that in a second round we would win against either candidate."
"It turned out to be Canada, and I think that the fact that we are representative of a smaller and medium-size group of countries was, in the end, decisive," he said.
There is widespread support for revamping the Security Council but all previous attempts, starting in 1979, have failed because rivalries between countries and regions blocked agreement.
Lyall Grant said next year's council "will be a mini-reflection of the sort of reformed Security Council that the United Kingdom would like to see" because it supports permanent membership for India, Brazil, Germany, Japan and African representatives.
India's U.N. Ambassador Hardeep Singh Puri said "naturally all of us will try and use the time that we have during this two-year tenure to also give our partners a sense of confidence and build trust so that they are comfortable with our membership of the Security Council on an extended basis."
Earlier Tuesday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel told journalists in Bucharest, Romania, that Germany, if elected, will first "want to use this seat to increase our influence on the reform of the U.N. ... by working constructively and in a creative way with the president of the General Assembly, who's obviously primarily in charge of it."
She said Germany also could be "in a better position to have an impact on many processes of conflict resolution and peacemaking" as a nonpermanent council member.
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, who was in the General Assembly for the vote, called the first-round victory "a sign of trust in Germany" and pledged to work for U.N. reform, peace, security, development, climate protection, disarmament and nonproliferation.
South Africa's foreign minister, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, promised to work with countries inside and outside the council, calling the country's election a "stamp of approval for us to come back and serve the international community in peacemaking, peace-building, peace maintenance and making sure that we keep the world free of conflicts."
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos called the election result "a great recognition for our country."