UNITED NATIONS, Jun 17 (APP):The UN General Assembly begun voting on Wednesday to elect President of the 75th session of the 193-member Assembly, five non-permanent members of the Security Council and members of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) under special voting arrangements put in place here due to coronavirus-related restrictions.
The Security Council has five permanent members — the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France — and 10 members elected by the General Assembly for two-year terms, with seats allocated to regional groups.
Five new council members are elected every year and this year Canada, Ireland and Norway are battling for two Western seats and Kenya and Djibouti are competing for one African seat.
India is running unopposed for the Asia-Pacific seat and Mexico is the sole candidate for the seat for Latin America and the Caribbean.
Both India and Mexico were both endorsed by their respective regional group for non-permanent seats on the 15-member Council.
It will be India’s 8th term as non-permanent member of the Council.
Meanwhile, Pakistan has already launched its candidature for 2025-26 term, election to which will be held in 2024. The year 2012 was the last time Pakistan served on the Council.
In the past, Pakistan was on the Council in 1952–1953 , 1968–1969 , 1976– 1977, 1983–1984 , 1993–1994 , 2003–2004 , 2012–2013.
According to diplomatic sources, although India was uncontested this year, its credentials were seriously questioned by many given its recent bleak track record on human rights violations and its continued repression and lockdown in Occupied Jammu and Kashmir, as also its discriminatory policies vis-a-vis the country’s Muslims and other minorities.
The President of the UN General Assembly, Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, announced the commencement of the elections around 9 am (6 pm pst) Wednesday.
UN diplomats, staff and other personnel began arriving at the General Assembly hall wearing masks one by one and immediately left the venue after casting their ballots. In previous years, the General Assembly hall was packed-to-capacity during the elections as UN diplomats and officials participated in the ballots.
In adherence to social distancing guidelines due to COVID19 pandemic, the 193 UN Member States have been allotted different time slots to cast their ballots next week in the General Assembly Hall for the crucial elections.
The voting will continue till 1 pm (10 pm PST) with an additional 30 minute time slot for voters who are unable to visit the GA hall during the specific time slot communicated to them.
Muhammad-Bande is overseeing the proceedings in the General Assembly Hall and the tellers are also observing the whole process.
On Monday he circulated a letter to Member States with the names of candidates for the various elections. For the two vacant seats from among the African and Asia-Pacific States, three candidates have been communicated, namely, Djibouti, India and Kenya. Of those three candidates, India and Kenya are endorsed candidates.
For the one vacant seat from among the Latin American and Caribbean States, one endorsed candidate has been communicated, namely, Mexico. For the two vacant seats from among the Western European and other States, three candidates have been communicated, namely, Canada, Ireland and Norway.
Each year the General Assembly elects five non-permanent members (out of 10 in total) for a two-year term. The 10 non-permanent seats are distributed on a regional basis as follows: five 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. To be elected to the Council, candidate countries need a two-thirds majority of ballots of Member States that are present and voting in the Assembly.