October 2015 Monthly Forecast

Posted 1 October 2015
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Security Council Elections 2015

Expected General Assembly Action

On 15 October, the General Assembly is scheduled to elect five states to two-year terms on the Security Council beginning on 1 January 2016.

(Please see our 2 October Special Research Report: Security Council Elections 2015 for more detailed information.)


The five seats available for election in 2015 will be distributed as follows:

  • two seats for the African Group (currently held by Chad and Nigeria);
  • one seat for the Group of Asia and the Pacific Small Island Developing States (the Asia-Pacific Group, currently held by Jordan);
  • one seat for the Group of Latin American and Caribbean States (GRULAC, currently held by Chile); and
  • one seat for the Eastern European Group (currently held by Lithuania).

The Western European and Others Group is contesting no seats this year, as its two seats are up for election every even calendar year.

At press time all five candidates—Egypt, Japan, Senegal, Ukraine and Uruguay—seemed to be running unopposed. The table below shows the number of seats available per region in the 2015 election, the declared candidates and their prior terms on the Council.

Region Seats Available  Member States Running and Previous Terms on the Council
Africa 2 Egypt (1946, 1949-1950, 1961-1962 [the third term was as the United Arab Republic] 1984-1985 and 1996-1997) and Senegal (1968-1969 and 1988-1989)
Asia-Pacific 1 Japan (1958-1959, 1966-1967, 1971-1972, 1975-1976, 1981-1982, 1987-1988, 1992-1993, 1997-1998, 2005-2006 and 2009-2010)
Eastern Europe 1 Ukraine (1948-1949, 1984-1985 [the first two terms were as the Ukranian Soviet Socialist Republic] and 2000-2001)
Latin America and Caribbean 1 Uruguay (1965-1966)

Voting Procedures

A country must obtain the votes of two-thirds of the member states present and voting at the General Assembly session in order to secure a seat on the Council, regardless of whether the election is contested. This means that 129 positive votes are required at a minimum to win a seat if all 193 UN member states are present.

Elections to the Council, as with other principal organs of the UN, require formal balloting, even if candidates have been endorsed by their regional group and are running unopposed. In theory, it is possible, although unlikely, that a country running unopposed might not garner the requisite votes of those present in the General Assembly in the first round of voting. Such a country may then be challenged in subsequent rounds by a new candidate and ultimately not obtain a seat.

This will be the last time that elections are held in October. As a result of concerns that elected Council members do not have enough time to prepare for their terms, the General Assembly decided to hold the elections about six months before the members elected assume their responsibilities. Resolution 68/307 of 18 September 2014 decided that this would start in the 70th session of the General Assembly, so the next election is expected in June 2016.

Potential Council Dynamics in 2016

Several of the candidates appear to have a strong national interest in countries in their respective regions that are on the Council’s agenda. Ukraine is likely to prioritise the situation in its own country and immediate region, which has become one of the most divisive issues on the Council’s agenda. Japan has been interested historically in non-proliferation issues and the DPRK and is likely to play an important role in those issues. Egypt, a major regional actor, will enter the Council at a time of turmoil in the Middle East and has an important stake in developments in several situations in its neighbourhood that are on the Council’s agenda, most notably Libya. During its campaign, Senegal has shown interest in focusing on threats to international peace and security such as terrorism and transnational organised crime in Western Africa. Uruguay’s engagement in peacekeeping in Haiti is likely to be reflected in the Council’s discussions about the ongoing downsizing of the UN mission there.

Following the release of the report by the High-level Independent Panel on UN Peace Operations and a subsequent report by the Secretary-General on its recommendations, thematic discussions on peace operations are expected to attract the attention of the Council.

A significant focus of attention for Council members in 2016 is the selection of the next Secretary-General. So far, Council members have only begun to discuss issues related to the process. There is expected to be more discussion in the coming months about improving the transparency of the selection process as well as about particular candidates.

Because of the growing disillusionment with the manner with which the permanent members conduct Council business, often voiced by elected members, there appears to be a strong desire among candidates and some continuing Council members to enhance the transparency and inclusiveness of the Council’s working methods.

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