June 2022 Monthly Forecast

THE SECURITY COUNCIL

Security Council Elections 2022 

The 76th session of the UN General Assembly is scheduled to hold elections on 9 June for five non-permanent seats of the Security Council for the 2022-2023 term. 

Background  

The five seats available for election in 2022, according to the regular distribution among regions, will be as follows: 

The Eastern European Group is not contesting any seats this year, as its one seat, held by Albania through 2023, comes up for election every other year.  

This year’s elections are uncontested, as five member states—Ecuador, Japan, Malta, Mozambique, and Switzerland—are running for the five available seats. Three out of the five candidates have served on the Council previously: Japan has served eleven times, Ecuador three times, and Malta once. Mozambique and Switzerland have never served on the Council. 

The five members elected this year will take up their seats on 1 January 2023 and will serve until 31 December 2024. 

The table below shows the number of seats available by region in the 2022 election, the declared candidates, and their prior terms in the Council.  

REGION SEATS AVAILABLE IN 2022 MEMBER STATES RUNNING AND PREVIOUS TERMS ON THE COUNCIL
Africa 1 Mozambique (never served)
Asia-Pacific 1 Japan (1958-1959, 1966-1967, 1971-1972, 1975-1976, 1981-1982, 1987-1988, 1992-1993, 1997-1998, 2005-2006, 2009-2010, 2016-2017) 
Latin America and Caribbean 1 Ecuador (1950-1951, 1960-1961, 1991-1992) 
Western Europe and Others 2 Malta (1983-1984) 

Switzerland (never served) 

 

Voting Procedures  

Election to the Council, as with other principal organs of the UN, requires formal balloting even if candidates have been endorsed by their regional group and are running unopposed. Every candidate must obtain the votes of two-thirds of the member states present and voting at the General Assembly session. This means that a minimum of 129 positive votes are required to win a seat if all 193 UN member states are present and voting. 

In theory, a member state running unopposed might not garner the requisite votes in the General Assembly in the first round and be challenged in subsequent rounds by a new candidate. This is possible, but unlikely. 

There have been several instances in which extended rounds of voting were required to fill a contested seat, however. Such situations have usually been resolved when one of the contenders withdraws, or a compromise candidate comes forward. Exceptionally, countries competing for a seat have decided to split the term between them, but the only time this has happened since 1966 was in 2016, when Italy and the Netherlands agreed to split the 2017-2018 term. 

Potential Dynamics in 2023 

Council dynamics have become more difficult following the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February. The crisis in Ukraine is expected to dominate discussion in the Council for the foreseeable future. Council engagement on Ukraine has followed several tracks, with a focus on the political, humanitarian and other dimensions of the conflict, such as issues of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons. It remains to be seen whether this trend will continue with the emergence of additional tracks, including on accountability, and the extent to which developments in respect of Ukraine will influence the Council’s ability to act in unison on other agenda items.  

Council members remain broadly supportive of the fundamental value of UN peace operations. While the large majority of resolutions mandating these operations continue to be adopted unanimously, there are often disagreements about some aspects during negotiations, such as language on human rights, women, peace and security, and climate change. The incoming members are likely to support the integration of these thematic issues into the mandates of peace operations, perhaps generating disagreements with members such as China and Russia, which have a more traditional view of the UN Charter and the meaning of international peace and security. With a number of UN peacekeeping missions in the process of drawdown, reconfiguration and exit, there is a growing focus on peace operations transitions.  

With Mozambique joining Gabon and Ghana on the Council, the three African members (A3) are likely to work closely in coordinating their positions and advancing the common African position on regional and thematic items on the Security Council’s agenda. In 2021, the A3 (Kenya, Niger and Tunisia) delivered 53 joint statements on the African region and on thematic agenda items such as UN peacekeeping operations and children and armed conflict. The A3 are also expected to coordinate their positions on working methods and present joint commitments in this regard. 

Tensions over the scope of the Council’s mandate can be expected to remain in 2023. For example, several members believe that climate change and security is within the Council’s mandate of maintaining international peace and security; most candidate countries have explicitly highlighted the promotion of climate change and security as one of their Council priorities. While they will find support from several members in the Council, they will encounter resistance from others: China, Russia and Brazil have long had reservations about the Council’s work on this issue. In December 2021, a draft resolution on climate change and security failed to be adopted because of a veto by Russia. It received 12 votes in favour, two against (India and Russia) and one abstention (China).  

The fight against terrorism and violent extremism is likely to remain a key focus of the Council’s work in 2023, as this issue features in the campaign platform of some candidate countries. For instance, Mozambique is keen to forestall the expansion of terrorism in its northern province, while Malta has also indicated an interest on this issue and underscores the role of education in fighting violent extremism.  

Disarmament and non-proliferation will continue to attract attention in 2023 with three of the candidate countries—Ecuador, Japan and Switzerland—identifying the issue as a priority.   

Small arms and light weapons continue to be raised in country-specific discussions and negotiations in the Council. This trend is likely to continue in 2023 with Ecuador and Mozambique highlighting the importance of this issue in their campaigns.  

A focus on the women, peace and security agenda is expected to continue in 2023. All candidate countries have emphasised that this will be a priority of their Council tenures. In 2023, there will be a new chair of the Informal Experts Group (IEG) on Women, Peace and Security, as Ireland and Mexico, which co-chaired the IEG for the last two years, finish their Council terms in December. Candidate countries are also expected to join the WPS commitment, which started with the “trio” initiative of Ireland, Kenya and Mexico. Among the permanent members, the UK, France and the US can be expected to remain strong proponents of this issue. Other member states, such as China and Russia, will probably continue to maintain that this agenda item should not be expanded to post-conflict situations and to emphasise that the issue of gender equality should not be within the Council’s purview.  

Throughout the COVID pandemic, several Council members have held signature events during their presidencies focusing on the crisis, and the Council has adopted two resolutions (S/RES/2532 and S/RES/2565) and one presidential statement (S/PRST/2021/10) to address its effects. Some candidate countries are interested in pandemics as an emerging challenge, and Ecuador, in particular, would like to keep the momentum on the Secretary-General’s initiative on the global ceasefire.  

While two members of the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency (ACT) group— Ireland and Norway—leave the Security Council at the end of 2022, two other members of this group—Ecuador and Switzerland—will replace them in 2023. The other ACT group members currently serving in the Security Council are Gabon and Ghana. These members might be keen to push for improving the Security Council’s working methods based on proposals advocated by the ACT group.  

For more background on the 9 June Security Council elections, including profiles of the candidate countries, please see our recent research report, Security Council Elections 2022