Eventful Security Council elections end with the first split seat agreement since 1960

The World Federation of United Nations Associations (WFUNA) is a global nonprofit organization representing and coordinating a membership of over 100 national United Nations Associations.
Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Yesterday, the UN General Assembly voted Bolivia, Ethiopia, Kazakhstan and Sweden onto the Security Council for a two year non-permanent seat from 2017-2018. The fifth and final non-permanent seat up for re-election will eventually, after a formal vote, be split between Italy and the Netherlands, after an arrangement was made to break a voting deadlock.  

In a day of high drama, the elections of Bolivia and Ethiopia were the only certainities heading into the vote, with each running unopposed on a "clean slate." In the Asia-Pacific Group, Kazakhstan were elected to the Security Council for the first time in their young history, becoming the first Central Asian state to ever sit on the Council. Kazakhstan's place was assured in the 2nd round of voting, after increasing their first round total of 113 to 138 votes to clear the two-thirds required majority of the 194 voting General Assembly members. 

The Western Europe and Other Group (WEOG), a tightly contested race between three strong candidates, provided perhaps the biggest suprise to voters and observers alike. Sweden receiving 134 votes in the first round, become the first Nordic country to sit on the Security Council since Denmark in 2005. Netherlands and Italy, recieving 125 and 113 votes respectively, failed to clear the first round hurdle, leading to a restricted ballot for the final WEOG slot. After four further rounds, with the last round seeing each candidate recieve 95 votes in a dead heat, the session was suspended for almost an hour. Upon emerging from the extended break, the President of the General Assembly offered the floor to the Foreign Minister of both Netherlands and Italy who announced that the countries had agreed to split the seat to serve a one year term each, in a show of "European Unity." Such a split has not occured since 1960. 

WFUNA were delighted to be able to contribute to this Security Council Election process through our historic first-ever open debates for competitng candidates. As each new member assumes their role on the prestigious Council, the wider UN community have important indications of their priorities and plans through the content discussed during each debate. Commitments made by each Member State to work with civil society will greatly strengthen the work of the Council in the short-term, and will hopefully become a precedent for all future elected members, and indeed each permanent member. 

During WFUNA's Security Council Election Debates campaign, the #UNSCElections recieved over 30 Million impressions on Twitter in just over six weeks. For more information on this WFUNA initiative see our dedicated web resource or read the op-ed by WFUNA Secretary-General, Mr. Bonian Golmohammadi, in the Guardian.  

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