UNITED NATIONS — The UN General Assembly elects five new members to the Security Council on Thursday and the winners are virtually certain because there are no contested races — Nigeria, Chad, Saudi Arabia, Lithuania and Chile.
Chad, Saudi Arabia and Lithuania have never served on the UN’s most powerful body while Nigeria and Chile have both been on the council four times previously.
Security Council seats are highly coveted because they give countries a strong voice in matters dealing with international peace and security, such as Syria, sanctions against Iran and North Korea and the UN’s far-flung peacekeeping operations.
The 15-member council includes five permanent members with veto power — the US, Russia, China, Britain and France — and 10 nonpermanent members elected for two-year terms.
Seats are allocated by region, and regional groups nominate candidates. There are often hotly contested races. In 2007, for example, a runoff between Guatemala and Venezuela went 47 rounds before Panama was finally offered, and elected, as the Latin America candidate.
This year, there were initially two candidates for a West African seat but Gambia dropped out last week in favor of Nigeria.
To win, each country must obtain support of two-thirds of all General Assembly members present, or a minimum of 129 votes if all 193 members participate.
Because balloting is secret, there is intense lobbying for votes by candidates, even in uncontested races, to ensure they get the minimum number needed for victory.
Winners will assume their posts on January 1 and serve through the end of 2015.
The five winners on Thursday will replace Azerbaijan, Guatemala, Morocco, Pakistan and Togo.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.