UN elects new council members including Japan, Switzerland

FILE -Secretary of State Antony Blinken presides over a UN Security Council Meeting on Food Insecurity and Conflict, Thursday, May 19, 2022, at United Nations headquarters. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, FGile)

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — U.N. member nations elected five countries to join the powerful U.N. Security Council on Thursday with no suspense or drama because all were unopposed — Ecuador, Japan, Malta, Mozambique and Switzerland.

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.

Today, the war in Ukraine is at the top of the list. Although Russia’s veto power has prevented the council from taking action, it has held numerous meetings since Moscow’s Feb. 24 invasion that have seen contentious exchanges between top diplomats from both countries and their supporters.

But many other conflicts are also on its agenda from Syria and Yemen to Mali and Myanmar as well as international security issues from the nuclear threat posed by North Korea and Iran, and attacks by extremist groups such as the Islamic State and al-Qaida.

The results of the secret ballot vote in the 193-member General Assembly were Ecuador 190, Japan 184, Malta 185, Mozambique 192, and Switzerland 187.

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.

General Assembly President Abdulla Shahid announced the results of the secret-ballot vote and congratulated the winner.

It will be Mozambique and Switzerland’s first time serving on the council, Japan’s 12th time, Ecuador’s third and Malta’s second.

Switzerland’s President Ignazio Cassi called the election “a very important day” for the country, coming 20 years after it joined the United Nations.

“We want to be part of the solutions for this world,” he told reporters after the vote. “We want to contribute to peace, stability and wealth in the world.”

Japan’s vice foreign minister, Odawara Kiyoshi, said his country will do its best “to make this United Nations working as a whole.”

He said Japan’s priorities for the Security Council are “to work effectively,” focus on implementation and “human security including energy and food,” and also make efforts to address the situation in North Korea.

The five new council members will start their terms on Jan. 1, replacing five countries whose two-year terms end on Dec. 31 — India, Ireland, Kenya, Mexico and Norway.

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: Albania, Brazil, Gabon, Ghana and United Arab Emirates.

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.