New members could shift balance on UN Security Council

World Today

Some new faces on the next U.N. Security Council. Estonia and the Caribbean island nation of St. Vincent and the Grenadines have won their first seats. Niger, Tunisia and Vietnam also won two-year terms. The new members could bring a shift in alliances on the 15-member group.

CGTN’s Nick Harper has more.

The annual election for the next set of U.N. Security Council members may have lacked the drama of presidential elections, but it wasn’t without surprises. A late entry for the 15-member council upset some of the predictability in these elections. El Salvador submitted its candidacy just hours ahead of the ballot. However, it only picked up six votes and was comfortably beaten by Saint Vincent and the Grenadines with 185.

Niger, Tunisia, and Vietnam, all running uncontested easily got the two-thirds majority they needed to secure their spots. But with voting split, Estonia needed a second round of ballots to beat Romania. Many of the countries join the Council with high hopes.

“We need to work together to prevent war and conflict, and we’ll try our best to resolve the ongoing ones,” said Vietnamese Deputy Foreign Minister Le Hoai Trung. 

“Tunisia will be the voice of Africa and the Arab World,” said Tunisian Minister of Foreign Affairs Khemaies Jhinaoui.

“An historic occasion,” proclaimed Prime Minister Ralph Everard Gonsalves of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, as his country won its first-ever seat. “We are the smallest country ever to be elected as a non-permanent member of the Security Council.”

The real power remains with the five permanent members: China, Russia, the U.S., the UK, and France who have the power to veto resolutions. The other countries are elected for staggered two-year terms. But some analysts believe the new members could still exert change.

“Vietnam and St. Vincent and the Grenadines are pretty suspicious of western policies at the UN, and they’re likely to be lining up with China and Russia,” said Richard Gowan, UN Director for the International Crisis Group. “Western diplomats do think it’s going to be a bit harder to get the votes they need to get resolutions passed here in New York.”

That could mean the U.S. potentially finding even less support on issues like Venezuela, Iran, and Syria. The new members start work on the Council on January first next year. Until then, it’s time to form alliances and formulate agendas before joining the world’s premier body for safeguarding peace and security.