2012 Security Council Election

The UN General Assembly voted this morning for five non-permanent members of the UN Security Council to succeed Columbia, South Africa, India, Portugal and Germany for the next two years. Argentina and Rwanda ran unopposed for the Latin American and African seats. South Korea was the front runner for the one open Asian seat, running against Bhutan and Cambodia, neither of which carried out particularly strong campaigns.

View from UK seat during UNSC election (Photo: Twitter/@UKUN_NewYork)

The major contest was between Luxembourg, Finland and Australia for the two open seats for the Western European & Others group. Each government pressed hard for its candidacy, with the government of Australia spending between $24 – $40 million in its bid, much to the displeasure of the government’s opposition who considered the costs and time devoted to the campaign excessive and misplaced.

Australian launched its bid only four years ago, fairly late by UN election standards. Luxembourg started its campaign in 2001 and Finland in 2002. This prompted a comment by Australian foreign minister Bob Carr, that some took as undermining the bid or downplaying a possible loss before the fact.

“The challenge is we took our merits into this race some time after our competition declared that they were in the race, six or five years after they had made their declaration and many nations have already committed to the people we are running against,” Senator Carr told reporters in New York.

On most ballots, all 193 UN members voted, meaning that a state needed 129 votes to secure a seat. In some rounds, a few ballots were invalidated, reducing the necessary requirement to 128 or 127. On the first round, Rwanda, Argentina won handily as did Australia, to many observers’ surprise. Luxembourg came in just one vote short of the necessary majority, and proceeded to the second ballot against Finland.

The second ballot concluded the race, with the Republic of Korea receiving 149 votes and Luxembourg securing a seat with 131 votes. The winning governments will assume their seats in January 2013, serving two-years terms until the end of 2014.

The following chart presents the final vote tallies.

Regional Groups Seats First Ballot Second Ballot
Africa 1 DR Congo (1)
Rwanda (148)
Tanzania (3)
Asia 1 Bhutan (20)
Cambodia (62)
Republic of Korea (116)
Cambodia (43)
Republic of Korea (149)
Latin America and the Caribbean 1 Argentina (182)
Barbados (1)
Cuba (1)
Western Europe & Others 2 Australia (140)
Finland (108)
Luxembourg (128)
Finland (62)
Luxembourg (131)


About the Author

Tony Fleming

Tony is a communications and advocacy professional with over 20 years of experience in multilateral reform advocacy and online communications.

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