What's In Blue

Posted Wed 8 Jun 2022

Security Council Elections 2022

Tomorrow (9 June), the 76th session of the UN General Assembly is scheduled to hold elections for the five non-permanent members of the Security Council for the term 2023-2024.

The five seats available for election in 2022, according to the regular distribution among regions, are:

  • one seat for the African Group (currently held by Kenya);
  • one seat for the Group of Asia and the Pacific Small Island Developing States (Asia-Pacific Group, currently held by India);
  • one seat for the Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC, currently held by Mexico); and
  • two seats for the Western Europe and Others Group (currently held by Ireland and Norway).

All of this year’s candidates—Ecuador, Japan, Malta, Mozambique, and Switzerland—are currently running unopposed. Mozambique and Switzerland are among 62 UN member states —32.1 percent of the total membership—that have never been on the Council.

Elections for seats allocated to African member states are usually uncontested, as the African Group maintains an established rotation pattern among its five sub-regions (North Africa, Southern Africa, East Africa, West Africa and Central Africa). This pattern has been interrupted on occasions, such as when Djibouti and Kenya (both from the East Africa sub-region) contested the single African seat in 2020. Last year, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) entered the race very late but withdrew in favour of Gabon, which was the AU endorsed candidate. Prior to 2020, the last contested election in the Africa Group was in 2011, when three candidates (Mauritania, Morocco and Togo) ran for the two seats allotted to the group.

Mozambique is representing the Southern Africa sub-region in this year’s election, in accordance with the rotation pattern in the African Group. The selection and endorsement of candidatures for the African Group take place within the AU structures. At its 38th Ordinary Session in February 2021, the AU Executive Council endorsed the candidature of Mozambique.

Two non-permanent seats are allocated to Latin America and the Caribbean, with one coming up for election every year. Since 2007, candidates for the GRULAC seat have generally run unopposed. One exception was in the 2019 election, when Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, which was the GRULAC-endorsed candidate, won the seat with 185 votes, after El Salvador submitted its candidacy just days before the 7 June election and received only six votes. In 2006, elections for the GRULAC seat on the Security Council for the 2007-2008 term were inconclusive after 47 rounds of voting over several weeks. With the General Assembly unable to decide between Guatemala and Venezuela, Panama agreed to stand and was elected in the 48th round as the compromise candidate. The process lasted from 16 October until 7 November. As a result of this experience, an informal understanding developed among GRULAC members to avoid contested elections, starting with the 2007 elections for the 2008-2009 term. This year, Ecuador is running for the seat currently held by Mexico. Ecuador is a founding member of the UN and has served in the Security Council three times.

Two non-permanent seats are allocated to the Asia-Pacific Group, with one coming up for election every year (similar to the GRULAC seat). This year, Japan is running for the seat allocated to the Asia-Pacific group currently held by India. Although Mongolia had presented its candidature for this seat in 2014, it decided to withdraw its candidature in favour of Japan. Japan is one of only two elected members with ten or more previous terms (the other is Brazil, currently serving its eleventh Council term). Upon taking its seat in 2023, Japan will take the record with twelve Council terms.

Two seats on the Council are allocated to the Western Europe and Others Group. These seats come up for election every even calendar year. Malta and Switzerland are running for the two seats currently held by Ireland and Norway. Malta has served once previously on the Security Council, while Switzerland is running for a Council seat for the first time.

Even if a country is running on a “clean slate”—that is, unopposed—it 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. 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.

Elections to the Security Council, as with other principal organs of the UN, require formal balloting even if the candidates have been endorsed by their regional group and are running unopposed. 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 highly unlikely.

For a more in-depth analysis of tomorrow’s elections, please see our 2 June research report, titled Security Council Elections 2022.

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