Security Council Elections 2023
The 77th session of the UN General Assembly is scheduled to hold elections on 6 June for five non-permanent seats of the Security Council for the 2024-2025 term.
The five seats available for election in 2023, according to the regular distribution among regions, will be as follows:
- two seats for the African Group (currently held by Gabon and Ghana);
- one seat for the Group of Asia and the Pacific Small Island Developing States (Asia-Pacific Group) (currently held by the United Arab Emirates);
- one seat for the Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC, currently held by Brazil); and
- one seat for the Eastern European Group (currently held by Albania).
The Western European and Others Group (WEOG) is not contesting any seats this year, as its two seats, held by Malta and Switzerland through 2024, come up for election every other year.
The five new members elected this year will take up their seats on 1 January 2024 and will serve until 31 December 2025.
The 2023 Candidates
Six member states—Algeria, Belarus, Guyana, the Republic of Korea (ROK), Sierra Leone, and Slovenia—are currently running for the five available seats. All six candidates have served on the Council previously: Algeria three times, Guyana and the Republic of Korea twice, and Belarus, Sierra Leone and Slovenia once. Only the Eastern European Group has a contested election this year.
The table below shows the number of seats available by region in the 2023 election, the declared candidate(s), and their prior terms on the Council.
|REGION||SEATS AVAILABLE IN 2023||CANDIDATES AND PRIOR COUNCIL TERMS|
|Africa||2||Algeria (1968-1969, 1988-1989, 2004-2005) and Sierra Leone (1970-1971)|
|Asia-Pacific||1||Republic of Korea (1996-1997, 2013-2014)|
|Latin America and Caribbean||1||Guyana (1975-1976, 1982-1983)|
|Eastern Europe||1||Belarus (1974-1975, as the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic) and Slovenia (1998-1999)|
Potential Council Dynamics in 2024
The ongoing tensions among permanent members are expected to persist and are likely to shape Council dynamics in 2024. While several issues—for example, DPRK non-proliferation, Israel/Palestine, Syria, and Myanmar—remain divisive, the war in Ukraine has heightened tensions among members over the past 15 months. Russia continues to justify its invasion, which it refers to as a “special military operation”, while several Council members—including Albania, Ecuador, France, Japan, Malta, Switzerland, the UK, and the US—condemn Russia for what they consider to be an act of aggression.
The situation of Ukraine is likely to continue to loom large on the Council’s agenda in 2024. Among the current cohort of candidates, Belarus has a particularly strong interest in and connection to the situation in Ukraine. Belarus shares a border with both Ukraine and Russia. Following the initial outbreak of the crisis in Ukraine in 2014, Belarus hosted a series of negotiations that resulted in the signing of the “Package of Measures for the Implementation of the Minsk Agreements”, also known as the Minsk II agreement, adopted on 12 February 2015. Since the 24 February 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, Belarus has also hosted several rounds of negotiations between Ukraine and Russia.
Some Council members have accused Belarus of aiding Russia during its February 2022 invasion of Ukraine, when Belarus allowed Russian forces to use its territory as a staging ground. Earlier this year, Belarus announced that Russia would station tactical nuclear weapons on its territory.
Candidates Guyana, ROK, Sierra Leone, and Slovenia were among 141 member states voting in favour of the 2 March 2022 General Assembly resolution titled “Aggression against Ukraine”. Algeria abstained, while Belarus voted against the resolution.
Most candidates have expressed a strong interest in issues on the Council’s agenda within their respective regions. Algeria is expected to dedicate special attention to issues concerning the Sahel, Libya, and the Middle East. A member of both the AU and the LAS, Algeria could also potentially be active on the situation in Sudan. Algeria is also expected to play a prominent role on the issue of Western Sahara. As discussed above, Belarus, if elected, can be expected to have a particularly strong interest in the war in Ukraine. Slovenia has historically been interested in the Western Balkans, and, if elected, is likely to play an important role on issues such as Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo, in addition to the Ukraine crisis. The ROK has a major stake in non-proliferation issues on the Korean peninsula. Sierra Leone has shown interest in focusing on threats to international peace and security in Western Africa, including in the Gulf of Guinea. As a member of GRULAC, Guyana could play an important role in Council discussions on Haiti and Colombia.
Peacekeeping is a key issue for several of the candidates. Among the current candidates, ROK ranks as the biggest troop contributor to UN peace operations and the largest contributor to the UN peacekeeping budget. Algeria and Sierra Leone are keen proponents of greater cooperation between the UN and AU on peace and security issues. Sierra Leone has emphasised its valuable experience both as a former host country and as a troop contributor.
African members have been trying to advance the discussion in the Council on the financing of AU-led peace support operations. Ghana, an outgoing member of the Council, has led these efforts, and may present a draft framework resolution in September. If negotiations on this issue are not finalised this year, they can be expected to continue in 2024.
In 2024, disarmament and non-proliferation issues are likely to garner more attention in the Council. ROK and Japan, which is currently serving its 2023-2024 term, both have a particular interest in non-proliferation issues, especially vis-à-vis the situation on the Korean peninsula. Among other candidates, Belarus has identified non-proliferation as one of its priorities.
Sierra Leone and Algeria have identified arms control and small arms and light weapons as priority areas, especially in the context of conflicts in Africa. Both candidates are strong supporters of the AU’s Silencing the Guns initiative.
Some of the candidates have emphasised the importance of addressing terrorism and violent extremism. Algeria has expressed an interest in sharing its own experience in combating terrorism. It is also expected to draw the Council’s attention to terrorism and violent extremism in its region, in the Sahel in particular. Sierra Leone has likewise underscored the need to tackle terrorism in the Sahel, as well as in the Gulf of Guinea.
Most candidate countries have highlighted the importance of addressing emerging threats to international peace and security. Among such threats, climate change, peace and security ranks high on the priority list for most candidates this year. Although several members of the Council support greater engagement on the issue, China, Russia, and Belarus, a candidate, have reservations about the Council’s work on climate, peace and security.
To date, the Council has made limited progress in bringing more attention to cybersecurity threats. In 2024, the Council could take a more active role on this thematic issue, given that several candidates, most notably Slovenia and ROK, have included this on the list of their priorities.
Most candidate countries have underscored the significance of the women, peace, and security agenda during their campaigns. As we move into 2024, the co-chairing of the Informal Experts Group (IEG) on Women, Peace and Security will transition: 2023 co-chair UAE will conclude its Council term in December, paving the way for another member to join Switzerland as co-chair.
Candidate countries may also sign on to the WPS commitments—which started with the “presidency trio” of Ireland, Kenya, and Mexico in late 2021—as Algeria, Guyana, ROK, Sierra Leone, and Slovenia have all denoted the WPS agenda as a priority. Among the permanent members, France, the UK, and the US can be expected to remain strong proponents of this issue. Russia will probably continue in its view that the issue of gender equality should not be within the Council’s purview. Among current candidates, Belarus would have a similar position to Russia. China is likely to continue to argue that the development gap is the most important barrier to women’s empowerment.
Two members of the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency (ACT) group—Gabon and Ghana—will leave the Security Council at the end of 2023. Among the current candidates, only Slovenia is a member of the ACT group. The other ACT group members who will continue on the Security Council in 2024 are Ecuador and Switzerland. These members will be keen to push for improved Security Council working methods, including proposals advocated by the ACT group.
With Algeria and Sierra Leone joining Mozambique on the Council, the three African members (A3) are likely to work closely in coordinating their positions and advancing a common African position on regional and thematic items on the Security Council’s agenda. In 2022, the A3 (Gabon, Ghana, and Kenya) delivered 63 joint statements on the African region and on thematic agenda items. The A3 are also expected to coordinate their positions on working methods and present joint commitments in this regard.
In 2020-2021, then Council member Saint Vincent and the Grenadines formed a partnership with the A3. These members coordinated their positions on several issues on the Council’s agenda and delivered joint statements as a part of the A3 + 1 group. There is a possibility that Guyana, which like Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is part of the CARICOM region, might renew this practice if elected.
Elected members continue to seek active roles in the Council, including as penholders, the informal designation for members who take the lead in drafting outcomes and convening negotiations on particular agenda items, a role most often assumed by one of the P3 (France, the United Kingdom, and the United States). Co-penholding by an elected and a P3 member had been nonexistent until 2019 when Germany succeeded in sharing the pen with the UK on Sudan. Recently, more elected members have co-penheld with a permanent member, including, among current members, Albania with the US on Ukraine, Ecuador with the US on Haiti, and Ecuador with France on Ukraine humanitarian issues. Elected members usually hold the pen on the Syria humanitarian file, and some candidate countries may seek this role, which is currently assumed by Brazil and Switzerland. Elected members also hold the pen on Afghanistan.
 Arab countries are a sub-group within the Asia-Pacific Group.