India, Mexico, Norway, Ireland elected to UN Security Council

Updated 18 Jun 2020

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The UN Security Council room seen in 2017. — AFP
The UN Security Council room seen in 2017. — AFP

The UN General Assembly elected on Wednesday four new members of the Security Council for 2021 and 2022, with Canada losing out again and the battle for the African seat going to a second round.

India, Mexico, Norway and Ireland were chosen as non-permanent members, while Djibouti and Kenya — both of which failed to receive the two-thirds vote majority required to win — will go to a second round of voting on Thursday.

Canada was beaten once again for one of the Western seats, by Ireland and Norway, despite a long and star-studded campaign, a result likely to be a blow to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

In the Asia-Pacific region, India — which has been trying unsuccessfully to win a permanent seat in an expanded Security Council — ran unopposed to win 184 votes out of the 192 countries that participated in the election.

The result means that India will now have a seat at the same table as China, just days after the two nations disputed their Himalayan border, trading blame for a brawl that left at least 20 Indian soldiers dead.

Mexico, which also ran unopposed, earned 187 votes.

African nations have in the past picked their own candidate but were unable to put forward a single country this time. Kenya received 113 votes against Djibouti, which got 78.

Kenya boasts of enjoying the support of the African Union, but Djibouti says it should have the seat due to Nairobi's past participation on the Security Council and the principle of rotation.

French-speaking Djibouti and English-speaking Kenya are both highlighting their roles in seeking peace on the Horn of Africa, as well as their contributions to UN peacekeeping options.

Kenya has pointed to its welcome to refugees from Somalia and South Sudan, as well as to its support to the two countries' fragile governments.

Djibouti, in turn, notes its strategic location and unusual role as a defense base for diverse countries — France, the United States, China and Japan — as well as its contributions in Somalia.

For Europe and the Western seats, the competition was more customary.

Canada — already stung by a defeat in 2010 during its last bid for the Security Council, when the General Assembly chose Portugal instead — was dominated by Norway, with 130 votes, and Ireland, which had 128, the minimum number required to win.

Trudeau had invested heavily in the latest Security Council effort, with the defeat potentially causing him political embarrassment at home.

"As we move forward, we remain committed to the goals and principles that we laid out during this campaign," Trudeau said in a statement, adding that Canada would "continue to play a vital role in advancing global cooperation and building a more peaceful, inclusive and sustainable world."

'Pakistan was against India's election,' says FM

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said on Thursday that Pakistan had voted against India's election to the Security Council.

"Our point of view is based on principles. With the way Delhi has been violating human rights since August 5, 2019, with the way they violated the UN's resolutions, it was always obvious that we were going to vote against India's election," he said while speaking to Geo News' Shahzeb Khanzada.

"If you recall, India had submitted its application back in 2013, back when the PTI wasn't in power. The only way to stop India would've been if Pakistan had submitted its own candidature. But that wasn't possible because we want to put our name forward for the 2024-2025 session," he said.

The foreign minister added that if India had friends at the UNSC, so did Pakistan. "Our friends are present there permanently and if India wants to scheme against us after getting elected, then we can have their [schemes] blocked via our friends," he said.

India's election raises fundamental questions: FO

Meanwhile, the Foreign Office (FO) on Thursday said that India's election to the UNSC raised "fundamental questions", while also congratulating Ireland, Norway and Mexico.

During her weekly press briefing, FO Spokesperson Aisha Farooqui said that the UN charter had trusted the council with the primary responsibility of maintaining international peace and security.

"The charter stipulates that in discharging this responsibility, on behalf of the member states, the council shall act in accordance with the purposes and principles of the United Nations. This is the touchstone for the council’s credibility and legitimacy.

"India stands in flagrant violation of several resolutions of the Security Council that prescribed a UN-supervised plebiscite to enable the people of Jammu and Kashmir to exercise their fundamental right to self-determination."

She added that India's gross and systemic violations of human rights in occupied Kashmir have been documented by several international organisations. "India has incarcerated 8 million Kashmiris, including [the] top Kashmiri leadership, with 900,000 occupation troops.

"The people of occupied Kashmir have been suffering under [an] inhumane lockdown and military siege for over 10 months, following India’s illegal and unilateral actions of August 5, 2019. The entire region has been turned into a large prison, with unprecedented restrictions which continue despite the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

"Indian actions aimed at illegally altering the demographic structure of occupied Kashmir are in violation of multiple UNSC resolutions and international law, in particular the fourth Geneva Convention. While the world is grappling with the unprecedented Covid-19 pandemic, India is busy unabashedly advancing RSS-BJP inspired extremist ‘Hindutva’ ideology.

"Over and above, the current Indian leadership has perpetuated massive violations of human rights against its minorities, in particular Muslims, threatening them with statelessness. Rising Islamophobia in India is evident from the destruction of the Babri Masjid.

"The imposition of the discriminatory Citizenship Amendment Act, initiation of the National Register of Citizens process, and the targeted killings of Muslims in repeated pogroms in Mumbai, Gujarat and New Delhi are various facets of this phenomenon."

She said that the Indian state's proclivity to violence was "no secret" and a direct consequence of its "headlong militarisation and unbridled hegemonic ambitions".

"It has routinely used aggression in seeking to coerce its neighbors. It has employed terrorism, at one time or another, as state policy to destabilise every neighboring state. It has border disputes with all of its neighbours.

"India’s so-called '5 S approach' in the UNSC is only a smokescreen to mask the arrogant, belligerent and confrontationist side of India." The spokesperson added that India would do well to add another aspect to this approach, "satya or truth".

"The truth of Indian oppression, aggression and occupation, which cannot be covered up by false espousals.

"Indian actions in occupied Kashmir and beyond are [a] fundamental negation of the purposes and principles of the UN charter. India is a consistent violator of the UNSC resolutions on the Jammu and Kashmir dispute. Rather than felicitated, a country with such credentials must be held accountable. India must be asked to abide by the resolutions of the Security Council."

She concluded that Pakistan will be working with the rest of the members of the UNSC in advancing the objectives of international peace and security in South Asia and beyond.

Celine Dion vs Bono

Hoping to woo delegates, both Canada and Ireland had wielded star power: Celine Dion sang in New York City to promote Canada at the UN, while U2 performed a concert in the Big Apple for Ireland.

"Campaigning for a UNSC seat involves endless lobbying, entertaining and worrying that the ambassador who just promised you a vote is a liar," tweeted Richard Gowan, an expert on the world body at the International Crisis Group.

Fearing fraud or manipulation, the General Assembly did not vote electronically, even though the United Nations is mostly operating virtually until the end of July due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Instead, each of the 193 delegations had a chance to cast a secret ballot at a designated time scattered throughout the day in the famous Assembly Hall. Each new Security Council member needed to win two-thirds of the votes cast.

The Security Council has 10 non-permanent members in addition to the veto-wielding Big Five — Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States.

The General Assembly also elected Turkish diplomat Volkan Bozkir as its president for the 2020-21 session on Wednesday.

Bozkir was the only candidate running, but Armenia, Cyprus and Greece — all of which have historically tense relations with Turkey — opposed him, meaning he could not be elected by consensus and nations had to cast votes.