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Posted on on October 12th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

The elections for the UN Security Council are in:

Japan, Mexico, Turkey, Austria, Uganda have finished their two year term and will be replaced by
India, Colombia, Germany, Portugal, and South Africa.

Lebanon, Brazil, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Nigeria, and Gabon are the hold-outs for 2011.

The only real contest was for the seats in the Western European and Other States Group (WEOG). The final contest there was between Canada and Portugal. Speaking after the vote, Portuguese Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Joao Cravinho said the fact that Portugal is a smaller country appealed to other states of similar size and power.

“Our own campaign had enormous amounts of receptivity in the message that we brought about our willingness to engage closely – not just for the purposes of the campaign, but to engage closely over our tenure in the Security Council with different regional groups, with countries big and small. Our campaign was also based on the idea that countries of small or medium-sized dimension should have a voice, be present in Security Council, this message had a lot of echo and, in the end, was the basis for our success,” said Cravinho. We believe that the US would have liked to see Canada win this contest.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle told reporters that his country’s first round victory is a sign of international trust in Germany’s role in global affairs. We believe that Germany like Brazil, Japan and South Africa (G-4) should be permanent members of the UN Security Council. Next year Japan will be outside as they just completed their term.

These contests reminded us of the Island – Austria contest two years ago. Then both contenders were small States somewhat irrelevant in the UN structure – with one outside and one inside the EU. This time Canada was a larger contender, but Portugal has some similar-language former colonies that will back her. Then Iceland had the Scandinavian countries back her, but the economy was the miller’s stone around her neck – then, Austria fought as if the country’s life was at stake. In the larger context of the UN these fights point at the fact that the WEOG is a strange construct that has not got the feeling of the new UN forces yet, and is continuing under the assumption that nothing has changed, and that Europe can continue unchanged its post-World War II  multi-seating at important international bodies, even by over-ruling the non-EU members of the group. But unless the EU does unite into one strong force – these fights rather look like battles staged in an operetta.

The new elected States include India, Germany and South Africa which add up to Brazil and Nigeria from among the holdovers – to form a strongest quintet the UN has come up with in recent years. Only Japan will be missed. And let us see:

With India, South Africa and Germany winning three of the rotating non-permanent seats in the UN Security Council (UNSC), this is the first time the Security Council will witness the simultaneous presence of all BRIC, IBSA, and BASIC countries and three of the four G4 countries.

The BRIC countries comprise four emerging powers including Brazil, Russia, India and China who are set to becoming leading economies of the world by 2050. Russia and China are already permanent members of the UNSC – albeit not the original signers of the UN Charter!

Brazil was elected to a non-permanent seat last year and will remain there till end of 2011.

The IBSA comprises India, Brazil and South Africa, bringing three leading economies of three continents together.

The G4 comprising India, Brazil, Germany and Japan are aspiring for a permanent seat in the UNSC. India won the seat vacated by Japan from the Asia region.

The BASIC countries are The US and China – the so called G-2 – and IBSA. This is the leading group that chiseled out an approach to climate change in Copenhagen, will wait out changes in the US in Cancun, but will prepare some alternative approach for the 2011 meeting in Cape Town – not a moment too soon. So the UNSC will have the right configuration next year to deal with the subject.

India, as one of the four  countries seeking to expand the Security Council’s permanent membership,  G-4, U.N. Ambassador Hardeep Singh Puri said his country would use its two-year term to work towards a longer-term stay on the body. He also spoke about what India’s presence will contribute to the council.

“We bring the voice of one-sixth of humanity. We have 63 years of experience in nation building, and I think that is what the U.N. can use. We have experience in peacekeeping. We would like to transcend that into peace building,” said Puri.

South Africa has returned to the council after only a two-year absence. Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said her country would work with states both inside and outside the council to keep Africa as a zone of peace, security and development. It seems that Africa gets it now – that they must have a permanent representation at the table.

The BRIC nations – Brazil, Russia, India and China – could present a united front on several contentious issues.

Earlier this year, Kazakhstan withdrew from the race leaving India as a sole runner from Asia for the two year term. The last time India had a seat on the Security Council was in 1992.

“BRIC coordination in the Security Council becomes a fact of life,” the Indian Foreign Minister said after a meeting with the foreign ministers of the three other countries.

BASIC becomes a way to tackle the global environment problems starting 2011 – we say. The subject was introduced to the UNSC by the UK in 2006 and no doubt will now come back strengthened with this new palette of members. Mexico’s membership at the Security Council, they are one of the States that are finishing their term, did nothing for Cancun – as if they were not there at all.


And an aside about the future of WEAG contests – for the 2013-2014 UNSC membership shift the competition in 2012 will be between Australia, Luxembourg and Finland. Australia is afraid that their fate will be similar to that of Canada this year – but we understand that Australia did not back Canada this time as it would have been even harder to replace Canada that has a similar background like Australia, then it will be to replace Portugal.

Another aside please see…
It seems that some believe that the right-wing Canadian government policies had something to do with the outcome that allows the EU to end up with four out of the total 15 chairs around the UNSC horse-shoe table.

Canada until this year managed to get a seat on the Council 6 times – that is once every decade – this compared to India that had a seat also 6 times earlier – last time in 1992 – and  was badly defeated by Japan in 2006. We found a paper from Winnipeg that accuses the Harper Government directly for this loss rather then trying to understand that distributing maple syrup bottles to delegations and sending in the mounties to the UN and paying for African Ambassador junkets – simply does not work when the competitor is a multi-headed EU. It is wrong to think that the right wing government was the only reason, – the UN had no problem with Colombia even though they were opposed by the ALBA group.

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