May 2007 Monthly Forecast

Posted 27 April 2007
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Security Council Elections

In October the General Assembly will hold elections for five seats on the Security Council to replace Congo, Ghana, Peru, Qatar and Slovakia. Please see our 2006 Special Research Report (14 August 2006) for a detailed description of Council election procedures and processes.

Currently it appears that three seats-two for Africa and one for Asia-will be uncontested, with candidates having obtained regional endorsement. Only two seats seem likely to involve contested elections: one for Latin America and the other for Eastern Europe. The elections seem unlikely to be as dramatic as last year when the battle for the Latin American seat saw Venezuela and Guatemala contesting 47 ballots, the third highest in the history of Council elections, before Panama emerged as a compromise candidate.

In the Group of Latin American and Caribbean States (GRULAC), Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic both seek the regional seat. Croatia and the Czech Republic will contest the Eastern European seat.

In the African Group, Burkina Faso and Libya are running for two seats. Both were endorsed at the African Union Summit last June and are therefore virtually assured of being in the Council next year.

In the Asian Group, Vietnam is the sole candidate and at this stage seems virtually assured of election.

However, even when seats are uncontested formal balloting is required with two-thirds of the present members of the General Assembly voting in favour.

Costa Rica, the Czech Republic, Libya and Burkina Faso have all served on the Council previously. However, Vietnam and Croatia are running for the first time. Assuming Vietnam is elected, the Council for the first time would have two members of ASEAN at the same time.

Ten of the 15 seats on the Council are held by elected members that serve two-year terms with five seats up for election each year. The five new members will join Belgium, Indonesia, Italy, Panama and South Africa, which serve until the end of 2008.

The regional groups are governed by a formula set out in General Assembly resolution 1991 A (XVII) of 17 December 1963. The number of seats is as follows:

  • five from the African and Asian States (which was subsequently subdivided in practice into two from Asian Group and three from the African Group);
  • one for Eastern European States;
  • two from Latin American States (includes the Caribbean); and
  • two from Western European States and Other States (includes Australia, Canada and New Zealand).

While the number of seats for each group and the voting processes are regulated by the Rules of Procedure and decisions of the General Assembly, some regional groups have developed distinct practices. The African Group generally follows a practice of strict rotation between North, West and East Africa. Libya will occupy the North African seat and Burkina Faso the West African one. This allows for a “clean slate” (i.e., endorsement by the regional grouping). In the Asian Group there is an understanding that a country from the Arab members of the Group will be elected every four years and that ASEAN countries do not run against each other.

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UN Documents

Selected General Assembly Documents
  • A/60/PV.29(10 October 2005) was the plenary record of the most recent elections of non-permanent members.
  • A/RES 1991 A (XVIII) (17 December 1963) was the resolution adopting amendments to the Charter on the composition of the Council and establishing the allocation of seats to various regions.

Please see our 14 August 2006 Special Research Report and the October 2006 Forecast for more details about the background and history of Security Council elections.
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Useful Additional Source

  • Eyes on the Prize: The Quest for Nonpermanent Seats on the UN Security Council by David Malone, Global Governance, Vol. 6, No. 1, January-March 2000

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