Security Council Elections 2023
Tomorrow (6 June), the 77th session of the UN General Assembly is scheduled to hold elections for membership of the Security Council.
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,
- one seat for the Group of Asia and the Pacific Small Island Developing States (Asia-Pacific Group),
- one seat for the Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC), and
- one seat for the Eastern European Group.
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.
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, with Belarus running against Slovenia.
Three non-permanent seats are always allocated to Africa. One seat comes up for election during every even calendar year, and two seats are contested during odd years. Although there have been exceptions, elections for seats allocated to Africa are usually uncontested, as the African Group maintains an established pattern of rotation among its five sub-regions (North Africa, Southern Africa, East Africa, West Africa, and Central Africa).
Algeria is running unopposed for the North Africa seat, which will rotate with the Central Africa seat currently held by Gabon. Algeria will also fill the “Arab swing seat”, which alternates every odd calendar year between the Asia-Pacific Group and the African Group.
This year, Sierra Leone is running unopposed for the West Africa seat currently held by Ghana. This seat usually alternates between Anglophone and Francophone countries. Given that both Ghana and Sierra Leone are Anglophone countries, this will be a departure from the typical pattern of rotation. In the 2019 elections, a similar situation occurred when Niger, a Francophone country, succeeded another Francophone country, Côte d’Ivoire.
Two non-permanent seats are allocated to the Asia-Pacific Group, with one coming up every election year (similar to the GRULAC seat). This year, the Republic of Korea is running unopposed for the seat currently held by the United Arab Emirates.
Two non-permanent seats are accorded to Latin America and the Caribbean, with one coming up for election every year. Since 2007, candidates for the GRULAC seat have run unopposed, with the exception of 2019, 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. This year, Guyana is running unopposed for the seat currently held by Brazil.
Eastern European Group
One non-permanent seat on the Council is allocated to Eastern Europe. This seat comes up for election every odd calendar year. In 2023, Belarus and Slovenia are contesting the seat currently held by Albania.
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. 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.
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 31 May 2023 report, Security Council Elections 2023.