Tag Archives: veto

United Nations Security Council Elections

UN_security_council_2005The United Nations elected five new non-permanent members to the Security Council today. The new members—Chad, Chile, Nigeria, Lithuania, and Saudi Arabia—replace five retiring non-permanent members. Recall that the United Nations Security Council has a total of 15 members, five permanent members (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States) each with veto power, and 10 rotating members elected to two year terms on a regional basis.

While the non-permanent members lack a veto, their position does give them considerable influence over the agenda of the body. Thus the seats are highly sought after.

The five new members replace Azerbaijan, Guatemala, Morocco, Pakistan and Togo, and will assume their seats on January 1. Both Chile and Nigeria have held rotating seats on the Security Council previously, while it will be the first time on the body for Chad, Lithuania, and Saudi Arabia.

Perhaps the most interesting question is how the new members might influence the work of the body. Saudi Arabia is a close ally of the United States, and the two countries often see eye-to-eye key issues in the Middle East. Nigeria’s membership also gives Africa a more powerful voice on the body. Nigeria is one of several countries that has lobbied for an expansion for the permanent membership on the group.

How do you think the new Security Council composition might influence the work of the body as it deals with contentious issues in Syria and elsewhere? Take the poll or leave a comment below and let us know what you think.

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Palestinian Statehood and the United Nations

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas addresses the United Nations General Assembly.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas addresses the United Nations General Assembly.

Blogging at the UN Dispatch, Mark Goldberg notes that the Palestinian Authority will ask the UN General Assembly to upgrade their status at the United Nations later this month. Palestine previously noted that it would push for United Nations membership, this move appears to be a more moderate (and far more realistic) course of action.

The United States and Israel are likely to be fairly isolated when they vote against Palestine’s application for non-member observer state status. It already enjoys observer status in the United Nations. Its new status would put it in the same category as the Holy See (the Vatican), which has held nonmember state status since 1964.

So why not become a full member?

There are currently 193 member states of the United Nations. According to the UN Charter, membership is “open to all other peace-loving states which accept the obligations contained in the present Charter and, in the judgment of the Organization, are able and willing to carry out these obligations.”

More practically, to become a member of the United Nations, a state’s candidacy must be approved by the General Assembly (by two-thirds vote) upon the recommendation of the Security Council.  And there’s the rub. The voting structure of the Security Council grants five countries (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States) veto power over the decisions of the body. Any single permanent member the power to block decisions of the group.

This is why, for example, Taiwan has never garnered UN membership; the government of China would block any vote in the Security Council, effectively terminated Taiwan’s application.

In the case of Palestine, the United States would veto the application, ending the process. So Palestine is left with the idea of applying for non-member observer state status, which requires only the approval of the General Assembly.

Global policies is messy, isn’t it.