Five new UN Security Council members


he 193-member United Nations General Assembly elected Ivory Coast, Equatorial Guinea, Kuwait, Peru and Poland to the Security Council for a two-year term beginning January 1, 2018.

The Netherlands was elected for a one-year term after reaching a deal with Italy last year to split a two-year term. Voting between the pair was deadlocked last year so they agreed Italy would serve for 2017 and then step down to let the Netherlands to be elected for 2018.

While all the countries were running unopposed, they still needed more than two-thirds of the overall vote to win a seat.

Ivory Coast received 189 votes, Equatorial Guinea 185, Kuwait received 188, Peru 186, Poland 190 and the Netherlands184 votes.

The council is made up of 10 elected members, five voted on each year and five permanent veto-powers: the United States, Britain, France, China and Russia. The council is the only UN body that can make legally binding decisions and has the power to impose sanctions and authorise the use of force.

To ensure geographical representation on the Council, there are five seats apportioned for African and Asian states; one for Eastern European states; two for the Latin American and Caribbean states and two for Western European and other states.

Regional groups generally agree on candidates put forward and competitive races for seats are increasingly rare.

Human rights activists said this was a “serious problem.”
“Member states should be able to choose whether or not they trust a country like Equatorial Guinea with the maintenance of international peace and security,” said Human Rights Watch UN director Louis Charbonneau.
“Equatorial Guinea is a country that harassed human rights defenders and civil groups, often with arbitrary detentions,” he said. “As the Security Council increasingly mainstreams the promotion of human rights, we hope Equatorial Guinea won’t push back or undermine that.”

Equatorial Guinea’s government has denied accusations of corruption and human rights abuses.