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Press Conference on Rules of Procedure for Security Council Elections

Department of Public Information . News and Media Division . New York

11 October 2010

Ion Botnaru, Director of the General Assembly and Economic and Social Council Affairs Division in the Department for General Assembly and Conference Management, briefed correspondents today on the rules of procedure for tomorrow’s election of five non-permanent members of the Security Council.

He said that every year, five of the 10 non-permanent Council members were replaced by five new members, elected by the General Assembly for two year terms to start on 1 January, according to rule 142 of the Assembly’s Rules of Procedure. The outgoing five members this year were Austria, Japan, Mexico, Turkey and Uganda. He added that Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Gabon, Lebanon and Nigeria would have to be replaced by the end of 2011. According to article 23 of the United Nations Charter, outgoing members of the Council could not be re-elected immediately.

Further to the Charter, he noted that in the elections, due regard should be paid to candidates’ contributions to the maintenance of international peace and security and to the other purposed of the United Nations and also to “equitable geographical distribution”. As for the current five remaining non-permanent members, three are from the group of African and Asian States, one from the group of Latin American and Caribbean States and one from the group of Western European and Other States, two seats will have to be filled by States from the African and Asian group, one by the Latin American and Caribbean Group and two by the Western European and Other States Group.

He said that a long-standing understanding within the African and Asian group provided for the election of one Member State from Africa and one from Asia. The ballot papers for tomorrow’s election would therefore reflect: one candidate from Africa; one from Asia; one from Latin America and the Caribbean; and two from Western European and Other States.

The African and Asian group had endorsed South Africa and India. From the Latin American and Caribbean group, Columbia was the only candidate — though not endorsed by its regional Group, he said, because that Group had not informed the Secretariat of an endorsement. Germany, Canada and Portugal would compete for the two seats to be allocated for Western European and Other States.

Mr. Botnaru said that according to the Rules of Procedure, elections would take place by secret balloting and that in order for a State to be elected, a two-thirds majority of Member States present and voting was required. He added that resolution 65/3, adopted by the Assembly on Friday, 8 October, enabled those countries that were currently in arrears under Article 19 of the Charter — Central African Republic, Comoros, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Sao Tome and Principe, and Somalia — to vote as their failure to pay the full minimum amount of contribution to the Organization “was due to conditions beyond their control”. Consequently, all 192 Member States can participate in the voting tomorrow.

After Member States had filled out their ballots, those ballots would be collected and counted by tellers from appointed Member States with the help of the Secretariat. During the counting, the Assembly meeting would be suspended, usually for about one hour, after which, he said, the Assembly President announces the results.

If the first round of balloting was inconclusive, a second round would be held, which would be restricted to the two candidates who had received the highest number of votes for one seat, according to rule 94 of the Assembly’s Rules of Procedure. He said that procedure would be repeated two more times if necessary. If a candidate was not elected after three such “restricted” rounds of balloting, the election would be then open to other States from the region in question.

Mr. Botnaru noted that just four years ago, the Assembly held 48 rounds of balloting, spread over three weeks, to fill the contested seat for the Latin American and Caribbean region. After the forty-eighth round, the two candidates — Guatemala and Venezuela — had withdrawn and the Group endorsed Panama, which was consequently elected. The longest election ever held took place in 1979, with 155 rounds between 26 October and 7 January, after which the two candidates — Colombia and Cuba — withdrew and Mexico was elected.

Regarding the required two-thirds majority of “members present and voting”, he said that a Member State who abstained would not be counted as “voting”. A ballot was invalid if it contained more States than the number of seats assigned to the region in question, or if all names on the ballot did not belong to the relevant region. If all 192 Member States voted without invalid ballots, the required majority would be 128. If, for instance, 192 ballots were collected, two of which are invalid and seven blank — considered to be abstaining — the total number of members voting would be 183, and the required majority, 122.

In conclusion he said that the rules would be followed carefully. He did not expect any difficulties and hoped to finish elections tomorrow.

At the outset of the briefing, Jean-Victor Nkolo, Spokesperson for the President of the General Assembly, announced that Assembly President Joseph Deiss ( Switzerland) would brief the media before the end of the month, with an exact date to be announced. Mr. Nkolo also announced that the President had appointed the Permanent Representative of Afghanistan, Zahir Tanin, as Chair of the Assembly’s intergovernmental negotiations on Security Council reform.

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For information media • not an official record

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