For the first time ever, candidates for the non-permanent seats in UN’s Security Council answered questions from Member States and civil society and presented their arguments for why they should be elected members of the Council. The security council election hearings took place at the UN on 23-24 May and were arranged by the World Federation of UN Associations, WFUNA, and featured the candidates Kazakhstan and Thailand from the “Asia Pacific Group” and Italy, Netherlands, and Sweden from the “Western Europe and Other Group”.
Until last minute before the hearings, it was still unclear if all of the candidates were willing to participate in a process that signals change at the UN, where most elections and selections tend to take place behind the scenes rather than through processes that stakeholders can engage in. The candidates received an equal number of questions from Member States and civil society organizations and on issues from development to disarmament, gender equality and civil society inclusion as well as the experiences and political priorities they would bring to the post if elected.
Thailand presented itself as a state with internal peace among different ethnic and religious groups, a proponent of tolerant and peaceful diplomatic relations and independent of the Permanent 5 in the security council. Kazakhstan took pride in its leading role in nuclear disarmament and stressed that no central Asian state has ever served on the Council.
Both Sweden and the Netherlands promised they would cooperate with civil society and together with Italy they stressed their experiences with peacebuilding and peacekeeping. Sweden particularly referred to its experience as chair for the Peacebuilding Commission and its determination to enhance the connection between security and development, while the Dutch pointed to their support for the Kigali principles and protection of civilians and Italy promised it would focus on root causes of conflict and mass migration.
The format was inspired by the President of the General Assembly’s recent hearings of candidates for the position as secretary general that received able attention for attempting to increase the transparency and efficiency of some of UN’s procedures and working methods. The Security Council has 10 non-permanent members that are elected for two-year terms and are distributed on a regional basis: five for African and Asian countries; one for Eastern European countries; two for Latin American and Caribbean countries; two for Western European and other countries. In addition to the five permanent members Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States.
Currently, the five non-permanent members that will stay until 2017 are Egypt, Japan, Senegal, Ukraine, Uruguay, while Angola, Malaysia, New Zealand, Spain and Venezuela will be replaced in the coming elections on 28 June. Here, each member of the General Assembly’s 193 member states have each one vote to decide who will take the five non-permanent seats from 2017-19. In addition to Sweden, Netherlands, Italy, Thailand and Kazakhstan, Ethiopia runs for a seat on behalf of the “Africa Group” and Bolivia for the “Latin America and Caribbean Group”.
The full hearings can be watched here for the “Asia Pacific Group” and here for the “Western Europe and Other Group”.