India has been elected to the United Nations Security Council as a non-permanent member, along with four other countries on Tuesday. Columbia, Germany, South Africa and Portugal will join India in taking seats on the UNSC from January 1, 2011 for two-year terms, taking the places vacated by Austria, Japan, Mexico, Turkey and Uganda.
India, Colombia, Germany and South Africa had evidently done their homework well, being elected in the first round. Portugal faced off Canada in the second round, but the latter withdrew its candidature and Portugal was elected in the third round. Two countries from Africa and Asia, two from Western European and other states and one from Latin America and the Caribbean were to be elected to the UNSC. The terms of the other non-permanent five members of the UNSC, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Gabon, Lebanon and Nigeria will end on December 31, 2011.
India got 187 votes in the first round, the highest number of votes among the winning candidates. South Africa got 182 and both Pakistan and Swaziland got 01 vote each, presumably their own. Columbia received the support of 186 countries, Germany 128 and Portugal got 150 votes in the third round, when neither it nor Canada got the required majority of 128 in the third round.
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation News reported that this is the first time Canada has failed in its bid for a seat on the UNSC, with its last term ending in 2000. The report said Canada had been preparing for this election for the past nine years. “In the final days of Tuesday’s bid, Canada wined and dined diplomats, offering them gifts of Canadian beer and maple syrup. Canada even had a Mountie in red serge as a prop in flown in so the 192 foreign diplomats who were casting ballots could get a photo with him,” said the report.
Indian Minister of External Affairs Somanahalli Mallaiah Krishna said of India’s election, “This represents over 98% of the total membership of the UN and is well ahead of the required 128 votes.” India will take a seat at the UNSC after almost two decades, taking the seat vacated by Japan. “It is of significance to note that, for the first time, the Security Council will witness the simultaneous presence of all BRIC [Brazil, Russia, India, China] and IBSA [India, Brazil, South Africa] countries, and three of the four G4 countries [India, Brazil and Germany],” he noted.
“Our immediate priorities in the Council will include peace and stability in our near and extended neighborhood, including Afghanistan, the Middle East and Africa, Counter-terrorism, including the prevention of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction to non-state actors, and the strengthening UN peacekeeping,” said Krishna, pointing out, “We live in a troubled neighborhood.”
Krishna also expressed his belief that this election would take India forward in its quest for a permanent seat on the UNSC, saying, “I have absolutely no doubt that we will utilize our tenure to provide a sense of satisfaction to all our partners and obtain their reaffirmation of the need for a permanent presence for India on the Security Council.”
Getting elected to the UNSC can be a long-drawn affair. 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, says the UN.