June 2024 Monthly Forecast

Posted 1 June 2024
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THE SECURITY COUNCIL

Security Council Elections 2024 

On 6 June, the 78th session of the UN General Assembly is scheduled to hold elections for membership of the Security Council. The five seats available for election in 2024, according to the regular distribution among regions, will be as follows: 

  • one seat for the African Group (currently held by Mozambique);  
  • one seat for the Asia-Pacific Group (currently held by Japan);  
  • one seat for the Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC, currently held by Ecuador); and  
  • two seats for the Western European and Others Group (WEOG, currently held by Malta and Switzerland).  

The five new members elected this year will take up their seats on 1 January 2025 and will serve until 31 December 2026. 

The 2024 Candidates 

Five member states—Denmark, Greece, Pakistan, Panama, and Somalia—are currently running for the five available seats. All five candidates have served on the Council previously: Pakistan seven times, Panama five times, Denmark four times, Greece twice, and Somalia once. All the regional groups are running uncontested elections this year, known as a “clean slate”.   

The table below shows the number of seats available by region in the 2024 election, the declared candidate(s), and their prior term(s) on the Council. 

 

UNSC candidates for 2025-2026 term

Potential Council Dynamics in 2025 

Political polarisation in the Council is expected to persist and is likely to shape Council dynamics in 2025. While several agenda items remain contentious—ranging from thematic issues such as non-proliferation and sanctions to country situations like DPRK, Myanmar, and Syria—Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the Israel-Hamas war have sharply raised tensions among Council members over the past two and a half years. 

The Israel-Hamas war and the wider regional crisis it precipitated in the Middle East have been highly divisive issues for the Council. As Israel’s closest ally, the US has consistently emphasised the country’s right to self-defence in the wake of Hamas’ 7 October 2023 terrorist attack, while most other Council members have criticised Israel for its alleged violations of international humanitarian law in Gaza and called for an immediate ceasefire. Of the 11 draft resolutions concerning the situation that the Council has voted on since the outbreak of hostilities, it had adopted three at the time of writing (resolution 2712 of 15 November 2023, resolution 2720 of 22 December 2023, and resolution 2728 of 25 March). The regional fallout from the war has also heightened tensions in other situations on the Council’s agenda, including Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen. 

Tensions in the Middle East may continue to feature prominently on the Council’s agenda in 2025, depending on the course of the war in Gaza and its aftermath. Among the current cohort of candidates, Denmark, Greece, and Panama all enjoy strong relations with Israel and abstained on the 27 October 2023 General Assembly resolution calling for a humanitarian truce in Gaza. However, while Panama also abstained on the 12 December 2023 General Assembly resolution demanding an immediate humanitarian ceasefire, Denmark and Greece voted in favour of this resolution, indicating evolving positions on the conflict as humanitarian conditions in Gaza deteriorated. Pakistan and Somalia—both members of the OIC—voted in favour of both resolutions and have criticised Israel’s conduct of the war. Most recently, all five candidate countries voted in favour of the 10 May General Assembly resolution granting new “rights and privileges” to the State of Palestine and calling on the Security Council to reconsider the Palestinian request to become a UN member state.   

If the war in Ukraine continues, it will remain an important issue on the Council’s agenda next year. Russia continues to justify its invasion, which it refers to as a “special military operation”, while several Council members—including France, Japan, Malta, ROK, Slovenia, Switzerland, the UK, and the US—condemn Russia for what they consider to be an act of aggression. 

Among the incoming members, Denmark, Greece, and Panama are expected to strongly support Ukraine, having voted in favour of all four General Assembly resolutions concerning the war (respectively, demanding that Russia withdraw its military forces from Ukraine; recognising the humanitarian consequences of the aggression against the country; suspending Russia from the UN Human Rights Council; and condemning Russia’s purported annexation of occupied territories). Pakistan abstained on all four resolutions, while Somalia voted in favour of the first and fourth and was absent from the second and third votes. On the Council, these two countries may seek a bridge-building role between Russia and Western members. 

Several incoming members have a direct interest in items on the Council’s agenda. Greece is a key stakeholder in relation to the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP), which patrols the UN buffer zone between the Greek-majority Republic of Cyprus and the self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. The country is also the flag state of several vessels that have been targeted by the Houthis in the Red Sea. Pakistan is likely to engage actively on Afghanistan, where the Pakistani Taliban—a terrorist group designated under the Council’s 1267/1989/2253 Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) and Al-Qaida sanctions regime—has staged cross-border attacks against Pakistan. Somalia hosts the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) and the AU Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) and is engaged in a military campaign against Al-Shabaab, a terrorist group designated under the Council’s 2713 sanctions regime. In addition, rising tensions between Somalia and Ethiopia regarding Somaliland—a self-proclaimed republic in the country’s northern region—were the subject of closed consultations of Council members in January. 

Peacekeeping is another priority for several candidates. Pakistan is one of the UN’s largest troop-contributing countries and is likely to take an active role on the issue as a Council member. Somalia also has a stake in the issue both as a host country and a proponent of UN funding for AU-led peace support missions, pursuant to resolution 2719 of 21 December 2023. Denmark may similarly engage strongly on the topic, having identified innovative responses to the evolving security landscape as one of its Council priorities. Greece has a particular interest in UNFICYP, as described above. 

Some of the candidates have emphasised the importance of addressing terrorism and violent extremism. Somalia has expressed an interest in sharing its national counterterrorism experience and may also draw the Council’s attention to terrorism and violent extremism in Africa more broadly, including in the Sahel. Pakistan has likewise emphasised its national counterterrorism efforts and may focus the Council’s attention on the threats posed by groups operating in its region.    

In 2025, disarmament and non-proliferation issues will likely continue to garner attention in the Council. Current members ROK and Japan, whose current Council term ends this year, both have a particular interest in non-proliferation issues, especially vis-à-vis the situation on the Korean peninsula. Taking over Japan’s seat, Pakistan is likely to maintain a focus on this issue, although its regional emphasis is expected to shift to the Indian subcontinent. The country may also highlight the threat posed by the acquisition of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) by non-state actors and assiduously promote the work of the Council’s 1540 Sanctions Committee on this issue.     

Most candidate countries have stressed the importance of addressing emerging threats to international peace and security. Among such issues, Denmark, Greece, and Panama have highlighted climate, peace, and security as a thematic priority for their Council terms. These countries are likely to face continued pushback from other members, such as China and Russia, which have long argued that the Council is not the appropriate forum for climate-related discussions.  

Other emerging issues pertain to new technologies. One of Panama’s stated Council priorities is the misuse of digital technologies for criminal purposes, which is a concern that Pakistan and Somalia may share in the context of counterterrorism. Relatedly, Council members may continue to discuss potential threats posed by AI, building on the December 2023 Arria-formula meeting on the topic convened by then-member Albania and the July 2023 high-level briefing convened by the UK. (In March, the General Assembly adopted US-facilitated resolution 78/265 on the promotion of “safe, secure and trustworthy” AI systems, which Denmark, Greece, and Pakistan co-sponsored.) In addition, the issue of WMDs in space may remain a subject of debate, following discussions on the draft resolution on the topic penned by Japan and the US, which Russia vetoed in April, and on an alternative draft put forward by Russia in May that failed to obtain the nine favourable votes required for adoption. 

The WPS agenda is expected to receive considerable attention in 2025, which will mark the 25th anniversary of resolution 1325, the first thematic resolution on the issue. Among the candidate countries, Denmark, Greece, Panama, and Somalia have all highlighted WPS as a priority area. These countries may sign on to the Shared Commitments on WPS initiative, which started with the “presidency trio” of Ireland, Kenya, and Mexico in 2021. Permanent members France and the UK can also be expected to remain proponents of the agenda, while the US position may depend on the outcome of the November 2024 presidential election. Russia will probably continue to argue that the issue of gender equality is not directly linked to international peace and security and therefore not within the Council’s purview. China is likely to continue to maintain that the development gap is the most important barrier to women’s empowerment.  

The co-chairing of the Informal Experts Group (IEG) on WPS will transition in 2025: current co-chair Switzerland will conclude its Council term this December, paving the way for another member to join Sierra Leone as co-chair.  

Two members of the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency (ACT) Group—Ecuador and Switzerland—will leave the Security Council at the end of 2024. Among the current candidates, only Denmark is a member of the group. The other ACT group member who will continue on the Council in 2025 is Slovenia. These two members are likely to take the lead in pushing for improved Security Council working methods, including proposals advocated by the ACT Group. Other incoming members may also support such proposals, however, as illustrated by the fact that Greece, Panama, and Somalia have all signed the ACT Group’s Code of Conduct regarding Security Council action against genocide, crimes against humanity, or war crimes, which calls on all Council members to not vote against any credible draft resolution intended to prevent or halt mass atrocities. 

With Somalia joining Algeria and Sierra Leone on the Council, the three African members (A3) are likely to continue working closely in coordinating their positions and advancing a common African position on regional and thematic items on the Security Council’s agenda. These members will also continue their partnership with Guyana, a member of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), which aligns with the Council’s African members on certain issues, replicating the A3+1 constellation first formed with former Council member Saint Vincent and the Grenadines in 2020-2021. While not a member of CARICOM, incoming GRULAC member Panama could weigh joining this grouping as well, potentially expanding it to “A3+2”.  

Elected members continue to seek active roles in the Council, including as penholders, the informal designation of those that 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 UK, and the US). Co-penholding by an elected member and one of the P3 had been non-existent until 2019, when Germany succeeded in sharing the pen with the UK on Sudan. Recently, more elected members have served as co-penholders with a permanent member, including, among current members, Slovenia with the US on Ukraine political issues, Ecuador with France on Ukraine humanitarian issues, and Ecuador with the US on Haiti. Elected members usually hold the pen on the Syria humanitarian file, and some candidate countries may seek this role, which is currently assumed by Switzerland. One or more elected members also traditionally hold the pen on Afghanistan, which is currently held by Japan. In December 2023, the Informal Working Group on Working Methods adopted a presidential note on penholderships (S/2023/945) that encouraged continued efforts to “ensure that the arrangement of penholder or co-penholder reflects openness, a shared responsibility and fair burden-sharing”.  


[1] Arab countries are a sub-group within the Asia-Pacific Group.

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