AP — Germany and Belgium are certain to win seats on the UN Security Council after Israel dropped out of the race last month, but there will be one closely watched contest between Indonesia and the Maldives when the General Assembly votes Friday.
The Security Council has five permanent members — the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France — and 10 members elected by the 193-member General Assembly for two-year terms. Five countries are elected every year by secret ballot.
Winning a seat on the Security Council is a pinnacle of achievement for many countries because it gives them a strong voice in matters dealing with international peace and security ranging from conflicts in Syria, Yemen and South Sudan to the nuclear threat posed by North Korea and attacks by extremist groups such as the Islamic State and al-Qaeda.
Candidates for non-permanent seats are chosen by regional groups and the only contested race this year is for the Asia-Pacific group’s seat.
The Maldives, a small island nation that has never been on the UN’s most powerful body, is vying for a seat against Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim country, which has served on the council three times.
The other regions have uncontested slates, and their candidates are virtually assured of victory for two-year terms starting January 1:
— Belgium and Germany, which have each served on the council five times, for the Western European and Others group of nations.
— South Africa, which has been on the council twice, for the Africa group.
— Dominican Republic, which has never served on the council, for the Latin America and Caribbean group.
Israel faced an uphill struggle in a three-way contest with Germany and Belgium for Western nations’ two seats and dropped out last month, saying it “decided to postpone its candidacy for a seat on the Security Council.”
Israel was not a member of any regional group until the late US ambassador Richard Holbrooke succeeded in 2000 in getting the Western European and Others regional group to invite Israel to be a temporary member, which later was extended indefinitely.