A Diamond’s Eye View of the World

a multi-faceted look at the middle east, and the middle west

securing a seat at the table: Lebanon joins the Security Council

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on October 15, 2009

For those following today’s no-contest election of Lebanon and four other states to non-permanent seats on the UN Security Council …

The UN offers a helpful (and quite comprehensive) explanation of the seats, the candidates, and the process by which they have been chosen and will be elected, which I am excerpting below. (You can read the entire report here.)

This is the UN report’s introduction:

The General Assembly is expected to hold elections on 15 October for five of the ten seats on the Security Council which are available for elected members serving two-year terms. The five seats available for election in 2009 will be distributed regionally as follows:

  • two seats for Africa (currently held by Burkina Faso and Libya)
  • one seat for Asia (currently held by Viet Nam);
  • one seat for Eastern Europe (currently held by Croatia); and
  • one seat for the Group of Latin American and Caribbean States (GRULAC), (currently held by Costa Rica).

The five new members elected this year will take up their seats on 1 January and will serve on the Security Council for the period 2010-2011.

At this time it appears that all five candidates will enjoy “clean slate” elections (i.e. they do not have any competing candidates). This is the first time since 2004 that there has been an election to the Security Council with absolutely no contested seats.

Nigeria and Gabon have been endorsed by the AU as the two candidates for the African seats. Nigeria was also endorsed by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in June 2009. Nigeria has had three terms in the Council, in 1966-1967, 1978-1979 and 1994-1995. Gabon has been on the Council twice, in 1978-1979 and 1998-1999.

Lebanon is the Asian Group candidate and won regional endorsement in 2008 from the Asian Group. Lebanon, which was a founding member of the UN, was last on the Council in 1953-1954.

Bosnia and Herzegovina is the candidate for the Eastern European seat. Poland had previously also been a candidate for the Eastern European seat but withdrew in October 2008. Bosnia and Herzegovina has never been on the Council, although as part of Yugoslavia it was previously represented on the Council four times (1950-1951, 1956, 1972-1973 and 1988-1989).

Brazil is the candidate for the GRULAC seat. It was endorsed by the Group in February 2009. Brazil is one of the founding members of the UN and was part of the first group of elected Council members in 1946. Since then it has served on the Council nine times, most recently in 2004-2005.

Although all five candidates have won regional endorsement and are therefore, in practice, assured of being elected by the General Assembly, a formal election with secret ballots is still required. (This is because these are elections to a principal organ of the UN and formal balloting is required for principal organs even though the candidates have been endorsed by their regional groups.) General Assembly decision 34/401, paragraph 16, which allows the Assembly to dispense with elections where there is a “clean slate” from a regional group, applies only to subsidiary organs and therefore does not apply to Security Council elections.) All five candidates will therefore need to secure two-thirds of the 192-member General Assembly, a minimum of 128 votes if all members are present and voting.

If no new candidates emerge at the last minute the ten elected members of the 2010 Security Council will be as follows: Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Gabon, Japan, Lebanon, Mexico, Nigeria, Turkey and Uganda.

Here’s the section on Lebanon:

2.2 The Asian Seat
In 1997 Lebanon obtained the endorsement of the Arab League as its candidate for the 2009 election. In 2008 it was endorsed by the Asian Group. Lebanon’s first attempt at a Council seat was in 1950 when it faced 14 rounds against Turkey before finally withdrawing. Lebanon then won a seat on the Council in 1952 in a clean slate election.

Among the broad areas of interest for Lebanon as a Council member is the fight against terrorism and disarmament (particularly a nuclear-free Middle East).

Lebanon is not a contributor to any UN peacekeeping mission but now has long experience as a host country for UN peacekeeping. The UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) has now been in place for thirty years.

Um. I think the “long experience as a host country” is a delightfully UN’y euphemism, but it would give the country a unique perspective on Security Council peacekeeping resolutions. And between Lebanon serving with Turkey, and its apparent effort to redefine “disarmament” from a domestic to a regional concern, this should be a hoot of a Security Council.


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