UNITED NATIONS: Pakistan is poised to secure a record eighth term as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council in Thursday’s election.

All UN member nations are currently engaged in the process of filling five non-permanent seats on the 15-member Security Council. Among the contenders are Denmark, Greece, Pakistan, Panama, and Somalia, with each regional group presenting a single candidate in this uncontested race, known as a “clean slate”.

Pakistan, representing the Asia-Pacific group alongside India, stands as a strong contender for one of the available seats. The elections are exclusive to the 10 non-permanent positions, as the UNSC’s five permanent members — Britain, China, France, Russia, and the United States — do not undergo the electoral process.

Traditionally, the allocation of the non-permanent seats follows a rotational method among regional groups. Consensus within these groups often determines the selected candidate.

Denmark, Greece, Somalia, Panama among contenders in today’s election for non-permanent seat

Notably, India and Pakistan, despite their historical rivalry, frequently support each other’s candidacies in these elections, reflecting diplomatic pragmatism amidst their differences.

All five candidates have served on the UNSC previously: Pakistan seven times, Panama five times, Denmark four times, Greece twice, and Somalia once.

The five seats available for 2024 election, according to the regular distribution, include one for the African group, one for the Asia-Pacific group, one for the Latin American and Caribbean group, and two seats for the Western European and Others group (WEOG). The five new members elected this year will take up their seats on Jan 1, 2025 and will serve until Dec 31, 2026.

The incoming members will inherit a world grappling with heightened tensions sparked by events like the war in Palestine and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. These conflicts have divided the Security Council as well, with key players advocating divergent positions on issues ranging from humanitarian crisis to disarmament.

The Palestinian conflict, in particular, has drawn sharp divisions among UNSC members, with the US staunchly supporting Israel’s offensives in Gaza, while others condemning the Israeli actions as ‘genocidal’ and calling for an immediate ceasefire.

Of the 11 draft resolutions concerning the situation that the UNSC has voted on since the outbreak of hostilities, it has adopted three at the time. The regional fallout from the war has also heightened tensions in other situations on the UNSC’s agenda, including Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen.

A UN statement, released in New York, noted that among the current candidates, Denmark, Greece, and Panama all enjoy strong relations with Israel and abstained on the October 27, 2023 General Assembly resolution calling for a humanitarian truce in Gaza. However, Panama also abstained on the Dec 12, 2023 UNGA resolution seeking immediate ceasefire, though Denmark and Greece voted in favour of this resolution.

Pakistan and Somalia — both members of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation — voted in favour of both resolutions and have criticised Israel’s conduct of the war. On May 10, all five candidate countries voted in favour of the UNGA resolution granting new “rights and privileges” to the State of Palestine and calling on the Security Council to reconsider the Palestinian request to become a UN member state.

On Ukraine, Pakistan abstained on all four resolutions, while Somalia voted in favour of the first and fourth and was absent from the second and third votes. “On the Council, these two countries may seek a bridge-building role between Russia and Western members,” the UN statement predicted.

“Pakistan is likely to engage actively on Afghanistan, from where the Pakistani Taliban — a UN-designated terrorist group — has staged cross-border attacks against Pakistan,” the statement added.

The UN also highlighted Pakistan’s role in peacekeeping, noting “Pakistan is one of the UN’s largest troop-contributing countries and is likely to take an active role on the issue as a Council member.” The statement added Pakistan also emphasised its national counterterrorism efforts and “may focus the council’s attention on the threats posed by groups operating in its region”.

Published in Dawn, June 6th, 2024

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