What to Watch For in Today’s Security Council Elections

Security Council elections are taking place today. The 10 non-permanent members of the Security Council serve 2 year terms and are nominated using the UN’s principals of “equitable geographic representation.” (In other words, there are a reserved number of spots for each region on the Security Council.) To be elected, members must win a two-thirds vote in the General Assembly.

Here’s how today’s elections break down:

– Gabon and Nigeria are on their way out, leaving two spots open for three African candidates (Mauritania, Morocco, Togo).

– Lebanon is leaving its seat in the Asia-Pacific Group for which Pakistan and Kyrgyzstan will vie.

– Bosnia bids farewell with Azerbaijan, Hungary and Slovenia competing for the eastern European slot.

-Guatemala is running uncontested for the seat vacated by Brazil.

Two quick thoughts on this.

1) It is a real sign of progress that three out of the four elections will be competitive. Historically, certain regions would simply nominate the number of candidates for which there are open seats.  In recent years competitive elections have become more routine. (Only Guatemala will run in an uncontested election.)  Needless to say, having competitive elections helps to maintain the integrity of the Security Council and keep the bad apples out of the barrel.

2) The Pakistan-Kyrgyzstan contest will be interesting to watch.  Pakistan’s diplomatic corps at the UN is really sharp. They know the game and they play it well. (I don’t really know anything about Kyrgyzstan’s UN team).

I would imagine that the United States might be less than thrilled having Pakistan on the council; the USA could be campaigning behind the scenes for Kyrgyzstan. On the other hand, Pakistan is a major troop contributing country for UN peacekeeping missions and one of the most important things the Security Council does is oversee peacekeeping. Pakistan has a lot of skin in the game — and despite tensions with the United States they could make a good case on the merits for Council membership.