UN Security Council elections on Friday could put nuclear rivals Pakistan and India at the centre of the global guardian of peace. The 193-member UN General Assembly will vote for five non-permanent members of the Security Council who will get a two year term.
Normally the seats are endorsed in advance by regional groups, but this time four of the five seats are contested. There is particular tension around the places for Asia, Africa and Europe. Kyrgyzstan was a late entrant for the seat that Pakistan thought it had sealed up. However, most diplomats consider Pakistan to still be the favourite.
Meanwhile, a press release issued by Kyrgyzstan Ambassador Alik Orozov in Islamabad maintained that the election would not influence “brotherly and diplomatic relations” between the two countries, adding that Kyrgyzstan had “no objection” to Pakistan’s election to the UNSC.
Pakistan was last on the Security Council in 2003 and it has been on the council with India in the past. Their UN envoys insist that any regional rivalry will be put aside.
“There will be no problem. We want to work together,” said Abdullah Hussain Haroon, Pakistan’s ambassador. “There are many issues where we have common views,” added India’s UN envoy Hardeep Singh Puri.
“The danger would be if something came up between them, like something in Kashmir or a terrorist attack,” said Thomas Weiss, head of the Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies at City University of New York (CUNY).
“But they have already shown that they can operate on the Security Council at the same time.”
With topics such as the Syria uprising and Iran’s nuclear program again expected to stay near the top of the international agenda, Pakistan is likely to side with countries such as India opposing any sanctions, diplomats said. Weiss at CUNY said that the increasingly contested elections may be a good thing for the Security Council.
He pointed to the example of the UN Human Rights Council which this year expelled Libya because of Muammar Qaddafi’s crackdown. Weiss said this was a sign of the rights council’s greater standing after it introduced competitive elections for seats.
“I don’t know if the Security Council elections this year are the start of a new era, but there is more competition and there is a lot more discussion among countries about the pluses and minuses of different states,” Weiss said.
Five of the non-permanent seats on the Security Council are rotated each year. Britain, China, France, Russia and United States are permanent members of the council. The election will also see the end of the presence of all five BRICS emerging powers -- Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa -- on the council as Brazil will leave at the end of the year.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 21st, 2011.
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