The UN’s General Assembly on Thursday elected five new countries, including Saudi Arabia, to non-permanent seats on the Security Council.
Saudi Arabia, which won a seat on the Security Council for the first time, will replace Pakistan as a representative for the Asia-Pacific region.
Pakistan’s two-year term ends at the end of the year. Chad and Nigeria are to take over from Morocco and Togo as African representatives on the body.
Lithuania takes the East European seat, which is currently held by Azerbaijan. Chile was elected from the Latin American region to replace Guatemala.
The five permanent Council members, which each wield the power of veto, are China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States. Non-permanent members Argentina, Australia, Luxembourg, South Korea and Rwanda will remain on the Council until the end of 2014.
Under the UN Charter, the 15-member Council has primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, and all member states are obligated to comply with its decisions.
Of the 191 out of 193 UN members who voted, Lithuania won 187 votes, Chile and Nigeria each picked up 186 votes, Chad secured 184 votes and Saudi Arabia 176 votes.
The five candidates, who were elected Thursday, were endorsed by regional groups and faced no opposition because there were no contested races for the first time in several years.
Each country must obtain support of two-thirds of all members present to gain a place. With balloting held in secret, candidates lobby intensely to ensure they garner the required amount, even where the vote is uncontested.
Saudi Arabia’s U.N. Ambassador Abdallah Al-Mouallimi said his country’s election “is a reflection of a longstanding policy in support of moderation and in support of resolving disputes by peaceful means.”
He expressed hope that working with other members Palestine would be able to establish an independent state, which he called “the core issue of the difficulties in the Middle East.”
He also hoped that the Syrian people would achieve “their aspiration for freedom and prosperity and unity.”
Pakistan’s UN Ambassador Masood Khan warmly congratulated the delegations of Saudi Arabia, Chad, Chile, Lithuania and Nigeria on the election of their respective countries, saying he looked forward to working with them.
“We welcome election of Saudi Arabia as a non-permanent member in the Security Council. Saudi Arabia is a close, friendly country,” Masood Khan said.
“It is an important country in the Gulf and the Middle East region. Its presence in the Council will contribute to the maintenance of peace and security in the region.” PNA