What's In Blue

Posted Wed 5 Jun 2024

Security Council Elections 2024

Tomorrow (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, are 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 Eastern European Group is not contesting any seats this year, as its one seat, currently held by Slovenia through 2025, comes up for election every other year.

Five member states—Denmark, Greece, Pakistan, Panama, and Somalia—are 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 five new members elected this year will take up their seats on 1 January 2025 and will serve until 31 December 2026.

African Group

Three non-permanent seats are always allocated to African countries. One seat comes up for election during every even calendar year, and two seats are available 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). This year, Somalia is running uncontested for the open African seat, which is reserved for the East Africa sub-region.

Asia-Pacific Group

Two non-permanent seats are allocated to the Asia-Pacific Group, with one coming up every election year. This year, Pakistan is running unopposed for the seat currently held by Japan.


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 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, Panama is running unopposed for the seat currently held by Ecuador.

WEOG Seats

Two seats on the Council are allocated to the Western Europe and Others Group. These seats come up for election every even calendar year. In 2024, Denmark and Greece are running for the seats currently held by Malta and Switzerland.

Election Process

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 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.

Potential Council Dynamics in 2025 

Political polarisation in the Security 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 the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), Myanmar, and Syria—Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 and the eruption of the Israel-Hamas war in October 2023 have sharply raised tensions among Council members over the past two and a half years.

The Israel-Hamas war and its spillover effects in the Middle East have been highly divisive issues for the Council. These tensions 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 candidate countries, 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 Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (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.

The situation in Ukraine is likely to remain an important issue on the Council’s agenda next year. Among the incoming members, Denmark, Greece, and Panama have 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.

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. Pakistan is likely to engage actively on Afghanistan, where the Pakistani Taliban (Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan)—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 Council members’ closed consultations 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, an issue addressed in 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.

The women, peace and security (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. The co-chairing of the Informal Expert 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.

For a more in-depth analysis of tomorrow’s elections and potential Council dynamics in 2025, see our 28 May research report, Security Council Elections 2024 and listen to our podcast episode.

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