COVID-19: UN Assembly yet to decide on UNSC election

UN General Assembly yet to decide on Security Council elections amidst COVID-19

As member states work remotely due to the coronavirus pandemic, the UN General Assembly has not yet decided as to how it will proceed with a secret ballot scheduled for June to elect non-permanent members of the Security Council, an election India will win following the endorsement of its candidature by the Asia-Pacific grouping.

Elections for the five non-permanent members of the 15-nation council for the 2021-22 term are scheduled to be held in June.

India is a candidate for a non-permanent seat in the elections this year and its victory is a given following the unanimous endorsement of its candidature by the 55-member Asia-Pacific grouping, including China and Pakistan.

UN General Assembly President Tijjani Muhamad-Bande's spokesperson Reem Abaza, during a press briefing, said that “until now, nothing has been made regarding the elections that should have been held in June.

"So until now, we have made decisions about meetings up until the end of May. We didn't take any decisions for June, which will be made very soon. At the end of this month, we will decide, or seek the membership, its opinion on decisions regarding the June events”.

She was responding to a question on whether any plans are being made by the 193-member General Assembly on how the UN Security Council elections will be held in June.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said that the telecommuting arrangements at the UN headquarters will continue till May 31.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, UN staff, diplomats, personnel from member states are working remotely and the UN Secretariat is all but closed.

Each year, the General Assembly elects five non-permanent members (out of 10 in total) for a two-year term.

The 10 non-permanent seats are distributed on a regional basis - five for African and Asian states; one for Eastern European states; two for the Latin American and Caribbean States; and two for the western European and other states.

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The election is held by a secret ballot.

The General Assembly is not holding meetings in person as UN staff and diplomats telecommute due to the pandemic.

Resolutions are being adopted by the UN body through a silence procedure, under which if no member state raises any objections to the draft within a specified time period, the President of the General Assembly will circulate a letter confirming the adoption of the text.

There is no provision as of now for the member states to vote remotely or send in their ballot through email or through other electronic methods for the Security Council elections so it remains to be seen as to how the elections this year will be conducted.

Last year, Estonia, Niger, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Tunisia and Vietnam were elected to the Council for a two-year term beginning January 2020.