The United Nations General Assembly has just elected India, Ireland, Kenya, Mexico and Norway as new non-permanent members of the Security Council for the next two years. The elections took place between 17 and 18 June. These five countries will replace South Africa, Indonesia, Dominican Republic, Belgium and Germany when they take up their seats in the Council on 1 January 2021. They will join Estonia, Niger, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Tunisia and Viet Nam - the other non-permanent members - as well as permanent members China, France, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States.
This year’s voting procedure was modified due to COVID-19 and social distancing guidelines. Member States were divided into eight groups, each allotted 30 minutes in the General Assembly (GA) hall to cast their ballots, one person per country at a time. Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, President of the General Assembly, oversaw the proceedings.
Djibouti and Kenya contested the single African Group seat, while Canada, Ireland and Norway competed for the two seats of the Western European and Others Group. India and Mexico ran unopposed.
Below are the priorities the new members have indicated they will pursue in the Council.
A founding member of the United Nations, India has served on the Security Council seven times (1950- 1951, 1967-1968, 1972-1973, 1977-1978, 1984-1985, 1991-1992 and 2011-2012). As member of the Security Council, India will focus on
1. New opportunities for progress: Working with partners to bring innovative and inclusive solutions to foster development; greater involvement of women and youth and calling for a coherent, pragmatic, nimble and effective platform for collaboration to ensure sustainable peace.
2. An effective response to international terrorism: Pursuing concrete and result-oriented action by the Council aimed at addressing the abuse of ICT by terrorists; disrupting their nexus with sponsors and transnational organized criminal entities; stemming the flow of terror finance and strengthening normative and operative frameworks for greater coordination with other multilateral forums.
3. Reforming the multilateral system: Promoting greater cooperation in multilateral institutions and reforming the Security Council to reflect contemporary realities.
4. A comprehensive approach to peace and security: Streamlining UN Peacekeeping to ensure greater clarity, direction, and professionalism in UN Peacekeeping Operations.
5. Technology with a human touch: Creating partnerships to harness the benefits of technological innovation to reduce human suffering, enhance ease of living and build resilient communities.
Ireland became a UN member state in 1955 and has served on the Security Council three times (1962, 1981-1982 and 2001-2002), with the first time being a split term shared with Liberia (1961). Ireland’s interventions as member of the Security Council will be guided by:
1. Empathy: Focusing on the eradication of poverty and hunger in the world, on inclusive peacebuilding that tackles the root causes of conflict and a more integrated approach towards post-conflict reconciliation involving peacebuilding, development, human rights, and good governance. Ireland has also stressed the special role women and girls must play in building peace.
2. Partnership: Standing with those who need assistance and helping to give voice to those who are not at the table, especially regarding climate justice, support to Least Developed Countries and protection of human rights. Together with other Member States and the UN, Ireland has vowed to work toward a more equal, peaceful and sustainable world.
3. Independence: Hearing and heeding the voices of all, to forge consensus and common purpose, serving with independence, courage and consistency. Ireland has stated its commitment to working for the necessary reforms and changes on the Security Council, so that it can properly fulfill the expectations of all UN members.
Kenya became a UN member state in 1963 after gaining its independence the same year. It has served on the Security Council twice (1973-1974 and 1997-1998).
Kenya ran its campaign based on a “Ten Point Agenda”, focusing on regional and global concerns: building bridges; peacekeeping and support operations; regional peace and security; countering terrorism and prevention of extremism; women, peace and security; youth empowerment; humanitarian action; justice, human rights and democracy; environment and climate change; and the Sustainable Development Goals.
Additionally, Kenya said that during its tenure at the Security Council, it intends to promote multilateral diplomacy, inclusive and sustainable development in Africa and beyond, the women, peace and security agenda, focus on counter terrorism measures and work towards creating an environment for the achievement of long-lasting and sustainable peace and development.
Mexico was also one of the founding members of the UN in 1945. It has served on the Security Council four times (1946, 1980-1981, 2002-2003 and 2009-2010) and was part of the first six elected members of the Security Council in 1946, and one of the three candidates elected to serve a one-year term. This was done to ensure that half of the non-permanent members would change each year.
During the campaign, Mexico stated that its tenure on the Council would be guided by its core foreign policy principles: Self-determination, non-intervention, peaceful resolution of disputes, legal equality of states, international cooperation for development, and the protection of human rights. Other priority activities are to promote respect for international law, preserve the dignity of people, prioritize dialogue, mediation and conciliation in response to conflicts, protect civilians in armed conflict, promote human rights and international law, improve the working methods of the Security Council and incorporate a gender perspective in the actions of the Council. Mexico is also planning to raise the issues of women, peace and security; climate change and security; and non-proliferation.
Norway was also one of the founding members of the UN in 1945. It has served on the Security Council four times (1949-1950, 1963-1964, 1979-1980 and 2001-2002). Norway said it would focus on the following four thematic areas:
1. Peace diplomacy: Strengthening the Security Council’s conflict prevention and resolution efforts.
2. Inclusion of women in UN peace and security efforts: Promoting women’s participation in peace processes, integrating the Women, Peace and Security agenda into all the Council’s work and ensuring that women’s participation and rights are safeguarded in UN peace and security efforts.
3. Protection of civilians in conflict: Strengthening the protection of civilians, including children, and using international humanitarian and human rights law as a basis for these efforts. Norway has vowed to give special priority to efforts to prevent and combat sexual violence in conflict.
4. Climate change and security: Ensuring that the Security Council discusses climate-related security threats and that it assesses, on a continual basis, the possible impact of climate change on other issues on its agenda.
Additionally, Norway is also seeking to make the Security Council’s working methods more transparent and inclusive and has vowed to consult with all member states to find solution and engage with civil society and other stakeholders in this regard.
The Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs provides the secretariat for the Council and conducts research and other support functions for the preeminent global peace and security body.
Title picture: Wide view of the Security Council Chamber. UN Photo/Manuel Elias