UNITED NATIONS–The United Nations elected the UAE to join the powerful UN Security Council on Friday for two years as non-permanent member, in a move that is expected to further enhance the Arab country’s growing stature on the regional and international scene.
Along the UAE, four other countries were elected to join the UN Security in the same capacity— Brazil, Albania, Ghana and Gabon.
Winning a seat on the 15-member Security Council is considered a pinnacle of achievement for many countries because it gives them a strong voice on issues of international peace and security ranging from conflicts in Syria, Yemen, Mali and Myanmar to climate change, to the nuclear threat posed by North Korea and Iran, and attacks by extremist groups such as the Islamic State and al-Qaida.
General Assembly President Volkan Bozkir announced the results of the secret-ballot vote and congratulated the winners.
The five new council members will start their terms on January 1, replacing five countries whose two-year terms end on December 31 — Estonia, Niger, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Tunisia and Vietnam.
They will join the five veto-wielding permanent members of the council — the United States, Russia, China, United Kingdom and France — and the five countries elected last year: India, Ireland, Kenya, Mexico and Norway.
The UAE received endorsements by the League of Arab States in 2012 and by the Asia-Pacific Group in June 2020. The UAE launched its campaign in September 2020 and held virtual briefings with various regional groups of Member States to the UN. These meetings reinforced the UAE’s strong relationship with partners and reaffirmed its commitment to proactively listen to, learn from, and reflect the views of the entire UN membership while serving on the Council.
“The UAE has always been ready to shoulder its share of responsibility for the world’s most pressing challenges in collaboration with the international community and this was the driving force of our bid,” said UAE Foreign Minister Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
Sheikh Abdullah, whose country has only served on the council once before in 1986-1987, pledged to support multilateralism, international law and the UN Charter and contribute to peace and security “with great diligence and determination.”
“Following the same steps and principles on which it was founded, the UAE will pursue its efforts to maintain international peace and security in cooperation with the members of the council,” Sheikh Abdullah had said, when the UAE announced its candidacy for the two-year seat last year.
The UAE’s UN Ambassador Lana Nusseibeh said the country will also seek to overcome divisions and make progress on “the most critical challenges of our time — from building resilience to climate change to tackling global health crisis and pandemics, to harnessing the potential of innovation for peace.”
“The UAE’s turn to serve on the Security Council is based on our belief that our values and principles can help drive progress to achieve our collective goal of international peace and security,” Nusseibeh added.
“The UAE is committed approaching its work on the Council with the spirit of collaboration and partnership. I also congratulate Albania, Brazil, Gabon, and Ghana on their successful election to the Security Council today and look forward to working together to build a more peaceful, secure, and inclusive future for all,” the Emirati ambassador said.
In Friday’s ballot, Ghana received 185 votes, Gabon 183 votes, Brazil 181 votes, UAE 179 votes and Albania 175 votes.
Before COVID-19, countries running for Security Council seats often invited ambassadors for visits to their nations, put on dinners and held receptions with entertainments, and sent senior government officials around the globe lobbying for votes. But the pandemic has curtailed all of that since March 2020.
Last year, the election for new council members was held under dramatically different voting procedures because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Instead of having ambassadors from the 193 UN member nations in the General Assembly chamber together for elections, a new procedure was adopted. A few ambassadors arrived at the assembly during spaced-out time slots to avoid a large gathering and ensure social distancing, and deposited ballots in a large box not only for new Security Council members but for other positions.
In recent months, the assembly has been meeting in person, with just two diplomats allowed from each country. So on Friday ambassadors were able to deposit their ballots one-by-one in a large box.
The 10 non-permanent seats on the council are allotted to regional groups, who usually select candidates, but sometimes cannot agree on an uncontested slate.
Even if a country is running unopposed, it must obtain the votes of two-thirds of the member states that voted in order to win a seat on the council.